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D’Agostini Starts Again as Marlies Open Home Schedule

D’Agostini Starts Again as Marlies Open Home Schedule

TORONTO – No doubt about it; it’s a different home opener, in a different season. No fans and no backup goaltenders seem to be a rule of thumb from a Marlies standpoint. There’s no doubt about it – Andrew D’Agostini has been tired. Back-to-back nights and starting now nine consecutive games, a club record, has to be tough on any goaltender. Going into Monday’s game, D’Agostini knew he had to pull through.

Before the Marlies’ home opener, Toronto announced that Richard Clune would be their ninth captain in team history. Clune has been a figure in the locker room for quite some time, now appearing in a documentary, “Hi, My Name is Dicky.” Clune aims to inspire others as he shares his story on beating drug and alcohol abuse in his teenage years and his journey to where he is today. 

Drop the Puck, Eh?

To start the game, there wasn’t much going for the Marlies. Consecutive penalties hemmed them into their own zone for the first five minutes. Snapping out of a defensive bind, Tyler Gaudet made a surprising spin shot, but to collect the rebound was Adam Brooks, tapping the low-pad shot from a Mikhail Berdin. Last season, Berdin recorded a 2.89 GAA and a 0.910SVS% with Manitoba.

73 seconds was all that separated the Marlies’ first two goals. Alex Galchenyuk made the play possible with the seeing-eye pass to Nick Robertson. From circles to the crease, Robertson tapped in the goal at squeaked across the line for the 2-0 marker. Monday’s game was Galchenyuk’s AHL debut.

By the end of 20, it was a tilt where the Marlies seemed to have control after the first five minutes of the period. Galchenyuk used his NHL experience to make great plays to start. For the Marlies, it’s the first bout of competitiveness I’ve seen since their last series against Manitoba. They were hungry for it, but not something they kept going forward.

Teemu Kivihalme scored the second period’s only goal. Bobby Lynch fumbled the puck and set up for Kivihalme to smack a one-timed laser on Berdin for the third stroke. Kivihalme is in his second AHL season before playing in Finland and moving to North America.

Quality opportunities. Maybe that was the name of the middle stanza. Manitoba had high-grade scoring chances in the second, but D’Agostini saved what he needed to. Meanwhile, for Toronto, taking your foot off the gas is never ideal, but extending their two-goal lead at the end of the period helps.

“There was definitely times in the second period on the defensive side that we stopped moving our feet, and we were in the D zone.” Said Marlies Coach Greg Moore, “It’s natural tendency to get up early and take your foot off the gas a little bit, and it kinda leaked into the third period. You could hear the bench talking out it – that we needed to respond.”

The Final Countdown

Oof. The only word to describe Manitoba’s first goal. The play started with miscommunication by D’Agostini and Calle Rosen. With the puck ringed around the boards, D’Agostini wanted to stop the rolling puck leaving it for Rosen. But when the defensemen craved to receive the pass going long, it left D’Agostini like a deer in headlights as Rosen skating up the ice. Jeff Malott tapped in his third of the season. 

One of the most challenging positions to make a save is right next to the ear as a goaltender. Joona Luoto’s goal near the midway point of the third was no exception. Streaking down the side-boards, Luoto took a shot like a NASA rocket to beam it past D’Agostini. The tally proved to show a little fret in the Marlies game. It became a sobering reality that Manitoba could come back, as the Moose had a match burning in their skates. 

But it wouldn’t be the case.

As the Marlies added an empty netter, their AHL rookie goaltender capped off another strong performance. Manitoba pushed in the second and pushed harder in the third. Outshooting Toronto 9-3 in the third, Manitoba had a chance to run away with the game, but going 0-for-6 and an empty five-on-three doesn’t help the situation.

The next game between the two will come on Wednesday at 7:00 pm ET. The game will be live on AHL TV, with live updates on Twitter, @SinBinMarlies.

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    Zack Power covers the Toronto Marlies for The Sin Bin. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @SinBinMarlies.

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