The Toronto Marlies are back.
After a two-week hiatus due to AHL COVID-19 protocols, Toronto will play 12 games in the next 19 days. The team played their first game since April 10th on Saturday afternoon against the Belleville Senators losing 5-3.
Prior to the game, there was some discussion on what Toronto should do going forward — use these last 13 games for development purposes or to end the season on a strong note.
“We can have fun as long as the compete is there, the details are there, the habits are there and we’re working towards getting better every day and taking advantage of that.” Said Greg Moore, after the Marlies first practice since being off due to COVID protocols. “Two weeks on-ice hasn’t been there for us and now we have a small window here to finish the season, and every rep is going to be really important for us.”
Getting in three practices that were high-tempo and high-energy were important before playing a long stretch of games. The Marlies’ players, though, were excited to be back on the ice after isolating for what was two weeks.
“You can see the smiles underneath everybody’s masks,” said Moore. “Once we got into practice, you can tell the guys were having fun, it was great energy. You know, just really thankful that we get to do what we love again, and it’s been a lot of people, a lot of work that has gone into allowing us to come back and you can tell the excitement.”
And that’s what it was to start yesterday’s game against Belleville — excitement and a seriousness to get back to business.
Toronto started the game with an incredibly high pace spending a lot of time in the Senators zone early. Belleville then opened the scoring putting two goals past Joseph Woll in the second period. That was until the Marlies came back in the third period and put two quick goals in of their own to start.
At some points of the game you could tell that Belleville had been playing more hockey recently. Toronto would have the pace but at some times would lose it. And then the Senators would strike. Belleville scored three unanswered goals putting the game away.
But it was the resilience of Toronto that was seen in this game. Although they were down, it took a lot for them to come back and score two fast goals in the back-half of the game.
“I was really happy to see our push that we made to comeback after being down by two, especially after not having played in so long.” Said Moore. “Psychologically, where the guys maybe thought they were physically, to go into that third period and have the confidence to push and make plays and find a way back into that game — it showed to the character and the belief in the group that they have to still execute that late in the game after being out for two weeks.”
From the players’ side though, what did they think?
“I thought we actually came out pretty hard at the start. We had a good game at the start of the first and second there and it was a good battle,” said Marlies defenceman, Noel Hoefenmayer, “it’s tough coming out of two weeks but I think we made the best of it for today and we’re excited for tomorrow to get another chance at it.”
Toronto has 12 games remaining on the season, and they’re all in the next 19 days. It’s going to be busy for the team who had two weeks off, but they’re excited for every bit of it.