Over the past few weeks, everybody from journalists, to players, to Toronto’s own Mike Babcock have had their say on the goal increase debate. Does the league need to, or is everything fine? If it’s a necessity, should it be done through shrinking pads, or increasing the size of the nets? Is strategy the problem?
The Toronto Marlies and St. John’s IceCaps heard everybody’s arguments, and responded by having the AHL’s third 17 goal game in the last 17 years. Leading the way was William Nylander, who was lights out in the closing stages to help Toronto pull off a four-goal comeback en route to a 9-8 victory. Here are the key stories from tonight’s game.
Nylander’s Big Night
The Marlies didn’t want a repeat of last night, where they picked up a point but fell to their suddenly-actually-rivals in overtime. The big guns were going to have to fire at all cylinders for tonight to work, out, and when Nylander set up TJ Brennan for an equalizer in the first period, things seemed like they were going to be okay; especially when the Marlies quickly followed with another pair of goals.
But then, things began to slip away from them. The IceCaps scored seven of the next eight goals. Zach Hyman’s second tally of the season acted as a midway-point, so to speak, but the Marlies had just nineteen minutes to crawl out of an 8-4 deficit.
No problem, after Marc Arcobello’s goal began the rally, Nylander fed Josh Leivo not once, but twice before the midway point of the period. Sam Carrick capped off the rally, setting the game up for for an unlikely overtime. The hero, on the other hand, was much more predictable.
With the goal and three primary assists, Nylander briefly took the top spot in the AHL scoring race from Bridgeport’s Joe Whitney, thanks to games in hand. Whitney, however, picked up an assist shortly afterwards, leaving Nylander in second place. That’s still incredibly good; his 19 points in 14 games puts the teenaged Calgary-born Swede on pace for 101 over 75 games played.
This wasn’t a fun night to be a goaltener on either team, as both Antoine Bibeau and Zach Fucale were left in for an exraordinarily long time. Bibeau, who was playing his first game since being called up by the Leafs, allowed eight goals on the night, seven of which came in a span of just twenty one minutes and eighteen shots on goal. Fucale lasted fourteen minutes longer, but also gave up eight on the night.
Garret Sparks had a significantly easier time in between the pipes. In twenty and a half minutes, he faced just three shots, all of which he saved without hesitation. Eddie Pasquale was perfect in regulation, but ultimately allowed Nylander to break his mini-shutout.
Bibeau moves down to a save percentage of 0.880 on the year, while Sparks moves up to 0.929.
Hot Streaks Live Forever
All the usual suspects continued to light it up for Toronto. Josh Leivo’s pair of goals and assists brought above the point-per game mark (14 points in 13 games) while Richard Panik’s three assists brought him to 13-in-13. Mark Arcobello continues his massive tear; he’s picked up a point in every game he’s played in since coming down, and has six goals and four assist sin ten games. TJ Brennan also remains with grasp of of a point-per game.
With that, three Marlies are in the top 20 of AHL scoring, and five players are in the top 50. Needless to say, they can score when they want to. Toronto became the first AHL team to score 55 goals on the year in the first period; they also became the first to score 60 in the third.
The Marlies have a point in every game since October 30th.
The road trip makes its last stop on Wednesday, when the Marlies take on the Rochester Americans. Puck drop is at 7PM. After that, Toronto will close November with four of five games at home.
Photo courtesy of Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com