TORONTO – Friday nights are special in the city of Toronto. It has this unique atmosphere that’s like no other. The 9-to-5 crowd survived the day with a sigh and made it to the game. It’s the first Toronto Marlies home game on a Friday this season, and it’s the first time they’ve been home in nearly a month.
The Marlies are fresh off of what can be considered an unsuccessful road trip. Recording a 1-5-2 record while out of town, being out on the road can generally mean a team bonding and building chemistry. But, this recent outing sowed anything but.
Toronto had lost both of their previous games this season to the Charlotte Checkers, being outscored 11-6, but the stats mean nothing going into the game.
Kasimir Kaskisuo and Anton Forsberg got the nod for the game. Kaskisuo has stayed consistent throughout the season, posting a 0.911 SVS% heading into this contest. Meanwhile, Forsberg was running a 12-7-2 record and a 2.89 GAA.
One notable for the game is the absence of Kenny Agostino. Kenny has scored 14 goals at home, leading the team in that category. Being out with the flu, it’s hard to say if he will play in Saturday’s game, but it remains unlikely.
It only took 4:16 for Morgan Geekie to push his point streak to 10 games. Receiving the drop pass from Tony Broadhurst, Geekie stunned the Toronto crowd early in the game.
— Zack Power (@SinBinMarlies) February 1, 2020
It wouldn’t take long for the Marlies to even the ice. Nic Petan found an errant pass from Oliwer Kaski, only to bury the shot glove side. The goal moves him up the leaderboard, producing 25 points in 17 games.
After 20 minutes down and the score still 1-1, I couldn’t help but think about how sloppy the period was. Both squads had turnovers galore and a (seemingly) careless defence. The only bright spot was the goaltending, which mopped up everything. It was clear — the winner of this contest would be decided on who could polish their game.
One shot is all it would take for the Marlies to slash open things in the second. Mac Hollowell drifted a backhand towards Forsberg and found his way over the blocker side. Petan and Ben Harpur got assists on Hollowell’s first AHL score. Mac was tickled pink skating to the bench.
Scott Pooley cashed in twice later in the period. Firing once from the circles and finding himself alone in the offensive zone, Pooley pulled the Marlies ahead 4-1.
— Zack Power (@SinBinMarlies) February 1, 2020
Alex Nedeljkovic would sub in following the second goal after Forsberg gave up two goals on four shots to start the second period.
At 6:14 of period two, the Checkers aimed to spoil the Marlies party with Max McCormick cashing in on the power play. Having the third-best power play in the league, the special teams looked healthy for Charlotte. Being able to get set up on the Marlies’ 30th place penalty kill, it came to no surprise they found twine.
Tanner MacMaster extended the lead late in the second, going full stride into Nedelkovic and beating the goalie blocker side. The Charlotte bench looked hesitant on whether or not there was goalie interference, but they didn’t challenge the call.
The second period saw the Marlies gain a 5-2 stranglehold. Though they were outshot again, the Marlies seemed confident in themselves, which was something I didn’t see while on the road.
Five minutes into the third frame, Egor Korshkov had what could be the AHL play of the month. Doing a spin-o-rama behind the net to juke out the defencemen…well, you have to see it to believe it!
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) February 1, 2020
The third period would go down as a physical one. Tensions began to boil over as time ticked away, and repercussions from shooting at the opposing net during practice were made. With every crash, bang, and close chance, the blood pressure rose just that much more. Pooley had his stick slashed away in the third with the Charlotte offence going, and after the game, he spoke about the physicality of the game:
“It’s two teams that bring a physical aspect, so that’s going to boil over at times like we saw there at the end.”
With the game settled at 6-2, Marlies Head Coach Greg Moore spoke to the media about the confidence of his club.
“We’re getting there. a lot of things are coming together now; you could tell everybody was breathing a little lighter during the game. they started to find their confidence.”
Though the Marlies got out-shot 33-27, it has almost become the norm. I find it hard to think back to any game where the Marlies haven’t been out-shot. Their play was better than what I saw all throughout their road trip. With the confidence from Friday’s win, they’ll use that stride moving forward.
Both will rematch today (Saturday) at 4:00 pm EST. The game will be broadcast live on AHLTV.
WHAT’S COOL ON TWITTER
With Vegas looking to buy an AHL team, I looked upon this map to see what future divisional alignment could happen.
If Rockford is bought and moved to Vegas, which Pacific Division team would bump over to the Central Division?
— SinBinEagles (@SinBinEagles) January 30, 2020
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