TORONTO – The first game of the 2019-20 season came for the Belleville Senators and Toronto Marlies inside the walls of the Coca-Cola Coliseum. The atmosphere was electric as the homestanding Marlies took to the ice one by one.
The squads walk in with a clean slate in the standings, the first of a new season for both. It was the first meeting of the campaign that contains 11 upcoming contests between the two.
In the pipes for the game were Marcus Hogberg and Kasimir Kaskisuo. Last year Kaskisuo went 12-14-1 for the Marlies with a 3.07 GAA. Hogberg, on the other hand, had a 21-11-6 record with a 2.32 GAA with Belleville.
The first few minutes of a game are usually a feeling-out process. However, both teams were quick to get physical and try to spark some offense. Four minutes into the game, the Marlies would capitalize on a hooking call. Scoring the first goal of the Marlies season was Egor Korshkov.
At the 7:27 mark of the first period, Nick Ebert took a nasty fall into the boards off a cross-check from Pontus Aberg. Although only two minutes in the box, it could have been far worse. Kasiksou continued to show his strong ability in goal as the Marlies’ penalty kill was active from the start. Ebert would return later in the game after some time hurt in the corner.
However, the Senators’ first period looked like a parade to the penalty box, with Santa Clause MIA. When this happens, you go almost two minutes without a shot or a quality scoring chance. Nevertheless, this gave a glorious opportunity for a perfect setup for Timothy Liljegren to get the Marlies up by Jermey Barraco (who scored three assists) and Adam Brooks (who scored two assists).
“For me personally, to get a goal (on the man advantage), it gave me a load of confidence.”
Later Jordan Szwarz received a holding the stick call, giving the Marlies yet another powerplay. Aberg had two big shots from the circles but came up dry. The powerplay looked good, just had nothing to show for it.
At the end of the first 20 minutes, Kaskisuo was the shining star, saving all 12 shots when the defense was sometimes nowhere to be seen. Eight minutes in the box for the Belleville Senators under the first frame is what stood out the most, and is why the Marlies were up by two. Without a doubt, something had to be said in the intermission by Senators coach Troy Mann.
Early in the second period, the Sens continued to test Kaskisuo, but the Finnish native continued to slam the door. For the Marlies, the defense looks spectacular on paper, but the first half of the game said otherwise. Trying to get things under control, Coach Sheldon Keefe called his only timeout.
“First off, we needed to break the momentum a little bit,” Keefe commented. “We weren’t playing with much purpose at all, which didn’t allow us to win any shifts or get any structure in the offensive done… I’m not sure it helped our cause in the second”
The timeout wouldn’t be enough for the Marlies to shut down the Senators, and Kaskisuo allowed his first goal of the match, with a marker Alex Formenton.
At the start of the final frame, Nick Paul drew a penalty shot, which couldn’t be patched through. Like their last attempt on March 20th, the Senators were denied. Holding his ground was Kaskisuo staying with the shooter all the way.
In the final half of the third measure, Jordan Schmaltz came through for the Marlies in the third goal on a delayed penalty. Ripping one in the slot, he scored the notch to give Toronto the insurance goal.
Aberg would add an empty net with 2:22 left on the clock. The game would end with a scrum between the teams, as the Marlies take the contest 4-1
Analysis and Post Game
The Marlies looked in complete control in the first, with the Sens unable to stay out of the box. Late in the period, though, it appeared that Toronto just started slack. Belleville would capitalize during the second, not stopping for anything. Even after a timeout, it didn’t help the situation. It would take a couple of minutes in the third before we saw any bit of light from the Marlies again. Although they would score again in the third, Toronto played a back-and-forth period.
Kenny Agostino also left with a head injury. Coach Keefe said that they’re going to speak with him in the coming days, and then break that the Marlies have now will only benefit the situation.
For Kaskisuo, he played a strong game in the season opener. If he continues to play like that through the season, you can expect a good season for the Marlies. Coach Keefe talked about him picking up where he left off, which is ideal given the situation. This a good sign, providing that he doesn’t go back into old habits.
What stood out to me was the skill of Aberg. All over the ice, he skated with the puck, played physically, but gave nothing to show for it. Three shots on goal failed to light the scoreboard. All Aberg’s player card displayed was two minutes in the box. Although it was his first game and buried an empty netter, I felt unsatisfied at the end of the game.
The next game for the Marlies will come on October 11th, where they’ll play in Manitoba against the Moose. The game is available for viewing on AHL TV.