Toronto clinches playoff spot, Ryan Tverberg’s pro debut, and more: Marlies Weekly
Photo credit:Thomas Skrlj/Toronto Marlies
By Nick Barden2 months ago
This week — for the Toronto Marlies — was all a big learning experience with only 11 games remaining until the Calder Cup playoffs.
Everything started off on a good note as the Marlies travelled to Rochester last Sunday to finish out their season series. Toronto has played the Amerks well all season and this was no different.
Bobby McMann, who’s now up with the Maple Leafs, had his second-career AHL hat-trick, Zach Solow scored his first as a Marlie, and Pontus Holmberg continued his consistency with two goals of his own.
Erik Kallgren stopped 32 of 35 shots against in a 6-3 win for Toronto, finishing the season with a very positive 4-3-0-1 record against Rochester.
After that game, Toronto had a number of days to prepare for what was ahead; two games against the Charlotte Checkers on Friday and Saturday.
The Marlies played their final game at Scotiabank Arena on Friday (St. Patrick’s Day) and it was their toughest game of the season, I’d say. Toronto couldn’t find many chances and ended up losing 5-0 to the Checkers.
“I just don’t think we had the effort that we needed.” Marlies captain Logan Shaw said after the loss.
Toronto set a new season-low for shots in the game with 13, while Charlotte had 32. Joseph Woll was only able to stop 27 of those shots, giving him only his second loss of the season.
“Forget about it and move on,” said Marlies head coach Greg Moore on what he would tell Woll after the game. “Obviously, he’s had a great body of work this year. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t do better in front of him … Overall, we really struggled as a team game.”
24 hours later, Toronto and Charlotte met once again, this time at Coca-Cola Coliseum. It was supposed to be a bounce back game for the Marlies, though once again, the Checkers stole the show, winning that one 4-1.
“Sometimes weekends like this can be good for a team,” said Joseph Blandisi on Saturday. “That’s a good wake up call for us 10 games out from playoffs.”
This was Erik Kallgren’s fourth-straight game where he’s given up three goals against. The lone goal for Toronto in this one came from Pontus Holmberg with nearly 10 minutes left in the game.
That’s his eighth point in his last eight games, with six of those points coming as goals. He’s helping the Marlies in a big way with point production while players like Bobby McMann and Alex Steeves are missing from the lineup.
“He has a lot of skill and ability to put the puck in the net,” said Moore on Saturday. We lost some offence, that we need guys to step up and fill those voids, and he’s been doing that as of late.”
One final note from Saturday’s game: Jordie Benn was injured, though I didn’t see what happened to him. Moore said there was no update after the game on the 35-year-old’s status.
Marlies clinch a playoff spot on Friday night
After their first loss to Charlotte this weekend, there was still a bit of excitement in the air. With Toronto’s loss, and Laval’s, that meant the Marlies would be the first team in the Eastern Conference to clinch a Calder Cup playoff spot.
They punched their ticket with 12 games still remaining on the season.
It’ll be a number of players’ first taste of playoffs in professional hockey, and it will also be Moore’s first time entering the postseason as head coach of the Marlies.
“There’s been a lot of great work all season for our team to get to this point,” Moore said Saturday. “But, I think that might be some of the psychology that our team’s going through right now is we’ve got to make sure we stay hungry, we stay motivated, we’re getting better.
“We certainly want to push for home ice advantage and make sure we’re holding onto this number one spot. And not necessarily just hold on, but like push through and every night plant a seed that we’re going to be a hard team to play against, and we certainly weren’t that this weekend.”
Ryan Tverberg’s professional debut
The 21-year-old got into his first professional game this weekend, playing on the Marlies’ fourth line (an 11F, 7D lineup) against Charlotte on Saturday.
This game was what you would expect out of a player playing in his pro debut. Tverberg was just getting the feel of the pace and physicality, likely trying not to make any mistakes. The more reps he gets, the more the 21-year-old will begin to look like he fits into the league.
It was also incredibly tough for him to find any momentum with the Marlies, as they took six penalties in the game. You’re not going to see the ice very much in your professional debut when the team needs to kill multiple penalties.
However, the 21-year-old did get some time on Toronto’s second power play unit and all signs lead to an encouraging stint of games as they close out the regular season.
“It was good. It was a tough game to get him in to,” said Moore. “I thought early on, he had some good looks, just speed around the rink, some good puck play. He looked calm. He didn’t look too nervous. I know he was excited.
“And then towards the third period, it was just tough to get him the amount of reps I wanted to give him, just based on where the game was at. But I thought it’s something that he could build confidence off of and a stepping stone for him.”
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