Marlies fall to IceCaps in Boxing Day Classic

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Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com

The World Juniors aren’t the only Boxing Day tradition going in hockey these days. For several years now, the Toronto Marlies have hosted an afternoon game against their Habs organizational rivals; in this present year, the St. John’s IceCaps. The matchups usually take place at the Air Canada Centre, but since the teenagers are in town this winter, Ricoh Coliseum hosted the festivities.

This year, it felt a lot more like the day that followed Christmas rather than boxing day. In a not-overly-exciting effort, the Marlies fell 2-1 to their opponents in Bleu, Blanc, Et Rouge.

To Toronto’s credit, they did their best to apply pressure in 40 of the 60 minutes that were at stake. In the first period, the Marlies took 10 shots to the IceCaps’ 3, with even more just barely missing the net. None of them were able to beat Charlie Lindgren, though, even with two of the twenty minutes being powerplay time.

The second period wasn’t so kind to Toronto. Max Friberg and Jacob de la Rose completed a nice passing play in close that eluded the defensive efforts of Viktor Loov and Travis Dermott, and Daniel Audette turned his limited available space into a pretty move on Antoine Bibeau to put St. John’s up a goal. The Marlies had a chance to equalize midway through the second after Yannick Veilleux took his second penalty of the period, but a misplay of the puck by Andrew Nielsen led to Jeremy Gregoire depositing home his fifth goal of the season while shorthanded. By the end of the period, the shot count was equaled at 13, meaning St. John’s had put up the same 10-3 margin while getting two more goals out of it.

The Marlies were down, but not out. Three minutes into the third period, former Marlies enforcer David Broll was sent to the box for a trip, putting Toronto on their fourth powerplay of the game. This one was successful; the Marlies’ unit moved the puck as close to the front of the net as possible, leaving Kerby Rychel available to score his sixth of the season. The Marlies kept pressing, outshooting St. John’s 10-2 in the third period and 25-15 on the night, but ultimately couldn’t finish it up.

Rychel, who has struggled to put up the offensive numbers expected of him this season, led the team in shots tonight with five. Colin Smith, Byron Froese, and Andreas Johnsson also had at least three of their attempts hit the net, though none of them made it in. Antoine Bibeau finished his game with 13 saves on 15 shots.

With the loss, the Marlies fall back to 0.500 on the season, with a 13-13-1-1 record and a goal differential of +3. Toronto now leaves home for the next week and a half, but will return to the ice on Wednesday night to take on the Binghamton Senators at 7:00 PM.