Open a MyChoice checking account and get $100. Use promo code SinBin100TORONTO, ON – The Marlies took game one of the North Division Finals 6-4 and are looking to win both at home. The Crunch are hungry to go home with an even record.

Marlies 2 - Crunch 1 (2OT)

The Marlies decided to start Garret Sparks for the seventh straight playoff game. The Crunch opted to go with Connor Ingram, who only played the one game in the first series that clinched their round two berth. In an odd occurrence, game three will be Sunday in Syracuse. Eddie Pasquale will likely start that game, so expect to see Calvin Pickard in the Marlies’ end. Meanwhile, the Crunch got back their leading scorer as Matthew Peca rejoined the team after getting hurt in their last game versus the Americans. In the other direction, Andreas Borgman was scratched due to an injury in Thursday’s game.

With the Crunch looking to tie the series, both teams came out strong. Unlike Thursday’s game, this one started with a quicker pace and fewer whistles in the first five minutes of play. However, they both started that five minutes without any shots on net.

Eventually, the shots did start and Sparks and Ingram had to use their game-winning skills to keep the game scoreless after 20 minutes. When the dust settled, the Crunch had managed to get 14 shots on the net, to the nine by the Marlies. From a chances perspective, the Crunch definitely had the edge. They likely went to the dressing room feeling frustrated.

The penalties did not help either team as they both got one. Both teams managed to get chances on their power plays and both teams were saved by their goalies. The first period was marked by attacks in one direction followed by attacks in the other direction. At the end of the period, the Crunch were pushing the hardest and forced Sparks to make another gloveless save had his blocker came off in a scrum. After some discussions, the puck was deemed to have stayed out and the period came to a close a short time later.

The second period started with a little less vigour as both teams started with a 4-on-4 as roughing penalties were handed off after the first ended. Neither team could make use of the extra ice space and the plays only picked up after they were back to 5-on-5. The Marlies definitely dominated the second period, but were not able to capitalize as Ingram was just too good. When the Crunch were shooting, Sparks made the saves although they were not strong chances.

The first goal of the game came from the returning Peca who got the pass high in the air and then put it past Sparks on the 2-on-1. It was a fantastic play by the Crunch as they caught the Marlies off guard. This goal would stand as the only goal after 40 minutes and it was the Marlies that went to the dressing room feeling frustrated after this stanza.

The third period started with another 4-on-4 as Daniel Walcott again got into some shoving at the end of the period, but this time he took Travis Dermott out with the roughing. Both would sit for two minutes. Again, neither team were able to make use of the extra ice. In fact, the whole third period was another battle as the Marlies tried to even it up, and the Crunch looked to get the win. Ingram and Sparks had another solid outing, but not a lot of chances.

With almost seven minutes gone in the period, the Marlies finally succeeded in tying the game. Trevor Moore breaks out with the puck from the Toronto end and gets a shot off, but missed the net. He picked up his own shot and then made a nice pass in front to Mason Marchment, who put it behind Ingram. With so much time left, scoring was far from over.

At least, that is how it seemed at the time. With the dams broken, this was sure to finish with multiple goals for each team. However, the third period would end on a tie at one each. Now there could only be one more goal to end the game and it would be in extra time.

The Marlies did get a couple of chances in the third period with the extra attacker, but they could not capitalize on this. The Marlies would almost score at the one minute mark as Ingram misplayed the puck behind his net and Colin Greening almost put it in. The second of those penalties came as a result of that play as the defender dumped the puck and got a delay of game penalty with 57 seconds left. The Crunch would start the overtime period a man short.

It turned out that not one but two overtime periods were required to finish this game. In each overtime period, the Marlies got called for a penalty, giving the Crunch chances of their own to take the game with the extra attacker. In the first case, Vincent LoVerde got called for hooking, but Sparks was on a hot streak and could not be beaten. Early in the second overtime, Carl Grundstrom picked up a high-sticking call to go down a man. Again, the Marlies held off the Crunch when they were up a man. Both teams had a perfect penalty kill for the entire game, so those penalties solved nothing.

The Marlies dominated on shots for the second, third and fourth periods. The Crunch owned the first and the last periods. In fact, the majority of the last period was controlled by the Crunch as they had attack after attack on Sparks. Sparks was showing no signs of fatigue, whereas Ingram was slowing down.

When the end finally came, it was in the second half of the period when the Marlies finally started to keep the puck out of their end. A nice rush brought them to the Crunch end and Pierre Engvall got a shot off, but Ingram made the save. Frederik Gauthier was passing by the net, was knocked to his knees and picked up the rebound and scored on Ingram to end the game and give the Marlies their desired 2-0 series lead. To be clear, Gauthier’s goal came while he was on his knees.

Summary:

Score: Crunch 1 – Marlies 2 (2OT)
Shots: Crunch 47 – Marlies 57
Penalties: Crunch 7 – Marlies 4

Scoring:

Crunch goal was scored by Peca and assisted by Mitchell Stephens.
Marlies goals were scored by Gauthier and Marchment. Assists from Engvall and Moore.

The two teams play tonight at 7:00 pm in Syracuse. Follow @SinBinBeast on Twitter for live game updates.

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