Photo credit:(Photo from Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff)
Marlies Weekly: Ryan Tverberg is the Leafs’ newest prospect to watch
By Bennett Jull25 days ago
The Marlies went into their last set of games riding a seven-game losing streak. Thankfully, they busted the slump in emphatic fashion, and have started to to turn it around. They’ve played five games over the past little bit, and have embarked on their annual January season-long road trip. Recently they played twice against Belleville, and twice against Charlotte. Let’s dive in.
In the craziest game of the season, the Marlies hosted Belleville on January 12th. This game had everything; goals, fights, dramatics – you name it. Where to start… Dennis Hildeby made his long-awaited return, and he certainly got some run support. The Marlies scored eight (yes eight) goals on route to an 8-0 drubbing. Hildeby picked up an assist and a shutout on his return.
In terms of scoring, Ryan Tverberg led the way with four goals and five points. The rookie is putting together a tidy season, and four goals in any game is certainly an eye-catching display. William Villeneuve had four assists in his strongest showing of the season. Max Ellis and Kiefer Bellows had three-point nights while Josiah Slavin and Marshall Rifai scored two points each. Rifai scored his first goal of the season.
In terms of penalty minutes, Kyle Clifford certainly led the way. He racked up 17 minutes, all of which came defending Dennis Hildeby. Between the second and third periods, Belleville’s Bokondji Imama jabbed Hildeby’s arm on his way off the ice. Clifford came roaring off the bench and fought Imama. Both were tossed, while Imama picked up 32 minutes for his spear. Joseph Blandisi and Zach Solow both had double-digit penalty minutes (12 and 14 respectively), while Max Lajoie also earned a fighting major.
Following their big win the Marlies started their nine-game road trip in Belleville. Unfortunately, they started rather flat, and Belleville jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Dennis Hildeby was pulled in a bid to fire up the boys, and it almost worked. Kiefer Bellows and Grant Cruikshank each scored, while Joseph Blandisi, Alex Steeves, and Topi Niemela added an assist. Their comeback bid fell short, and Belleville piled on a few more in the third. The final score was 6-2. Cruickshank’s tally was his first AHL goal, hopefully, the first of many.
In other important news, Kiefer Bellows signed an AHL contract for the rest of the season. He has been a welcomed pickup, and his output has been strong since joining the squad.
Having completed their home and home with Belleville, the Marlies headed South for back-to-back games this past weekend in Charlotte. In Saturday’s match, Charlotte jumped out to a 2-1 lead after the first period. Dennis Hildeby slammed the door shut for the next 40 minutes, and the Marlies scored the next four goals to win 5-2. Logan Shaw, Joseph Blandisi, Alex Steeves, and Max Lajoie each had two-point nights.
On Sunday the two teams did battle again. Much like Saturday, the Marlies’ big guns came to play. Steeves had two goals, while Kiefer Bellows added a goal and an assist. William Villeneuve had a couple of assists, and Keith Petruzelli stopped 20 of 21 shots.
While the Marlies didn’t see the same success against the Lake Erie Monsters on Wednesday night, who else but Tverberg kept his name on the scoresheet? He tallied three assists in the 7-5 loss to bring him up to 23 points in 21 games in his AHL rookie season. The Leafs likely would have been more than happy to let him marinate in the AHL this season, but given how quickly he’s been able to pick up on the pace of pro hockey, one might wonder if he gets a call to the NHL sooner rather than later.
One thing to make note of is what the Maple Leafs will do with their roster over the next few days. Ryan Reaves was activated off IR, while Tyler Bertuzzi moved to non-roster as he and his wife expect their second child. First off, I wish the Bertuzzis all good health and happiness over the coming days. When Bertuzzi does indeed return, the Leafs will have one too many skaters. Could Holmberg or Robertson be sent down as they are waiver-exempt? Perhaps Lagesson, McMann, or Timmins is waived. Either way, the Marlies could be getting a big boost soon.
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