Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com
While this may have been the year where the Marlies-IceCaps rivalry was truly legitimised, no form of tension and close competition will ever change the fact that twelve games against another team in the same season is far, far too many. It’s a necessity due to the travel complexities that the AHL carries, but at a certain point, welcomes feel a little overstated.
Tonight, the teams took to the ice together for what is presumably the last time this season, with the result being a 4-0 victory for the blue and white in front of the home fans.
The first period was rather uneventful, with the teams combining for less than ten shots for the bulk of the period. In the final minute, though, Toronto woke up a little, with Kasperi Kapanen coming within inches of beating Eddie Pasquale not once, but twice in one sequence.
Toronto got their first stretch of control early in the second period as their opponents decided to make early occupation of the penalty box. Max Friberg went off for a trip and John Scott followed him soon after with a double minor for an attempted spear. While the Marlies couldn’t convert on the 5-on-3, they were able to turn Scott’s infraction into a go-ahead tally as Tobias Lindberg rebounded Sam Carrick’s first crack into the back of the net.
Just seconds later, the Marlies doubled up. A fantastic deke by Matt Frattin put himself and Frederik Gauthier on an odd-man rush. Frattin pulled the veteran move, feeding Gauthier for the one-timer which was promptly blasted by Pasquale.
Brandon Leipsic put the team in a tough situation a few minutes later. In a case of superpest-on-superpest violence, the AHL sophomore shoved Gabriel Dumont into the boards. Knowing that he was soon to be jumped by a St. John’s teammate looking for revenge, Leipsic paused, turned back around, and gave Dumont some additional choice words for the next few seconds. For this, he was given a five-minute boarding penalty and an additional ten for unsportsmanlike, ending his period. Toronto killed the extended penalty kill with no issue, though, and rode the 2-0 score all the way into the intermission.
Toronto carried their efforts into the third period. Sam Carrick followed up on Lindberg and Gauthier’s tallies by picking up a rebound of his own at the four-minute mark, and the goal posts did what they can to protect Antoine Bibeau’s percentages. A mid-period 5-on-3 was the perfect time for Leipsic to make his reappearance, and he did so in style, picking up his 20th of the season.
The standouts in this game were definitely Matt Frattin and Antoine Bibeau. Frattin turned back the clock with a “what could have been” performance, using his hands to dodge opponents, putting his weight into heavy shots, and using the rest of his body to knock down a few unsuspecting opponents. Bibeau, on the other hand, stood on his head and despite having plenty of shot and goal support, his 21-save shutout was the cherry on top.
With the win, the Marlies improve to 48-15-5, making them the first team in the league to hit 100 points, doing so before anybody else could get past 90 (Albany). Now that this game is behind them, Toronto will take a few days off before heading to Syracuse to take on the Crunch on Friday. Puck drop for that one is at 7:00 PM.