TORONTO – Playing three games in three days is never easy, but it doesn’t get any easier when you’re in a rough patch. Toronto has dropped their last three games, including an 8-2 skid against the Syracuse Crunch. Though an 8-2 loss is always tough to kickstart a new year, it’s not the worst loss they’ve suffered to begin anew on the calendar. In 2011, the Marlies lost to Chicago 9-3 in their first game of the year. Additionally, to begin 2007, the Marlies took an 8-1 beating against Syracuse.
Ahead of Saturday’s game against the Rochester Americans, Scott Pooley was recalled from the Newfoundland Growlers and Teemu Kivihalme was returned to the Marlies from the Maple Leafs. With two new bodies in attendance, it will give fresh energy to a team in the middle of three games in three days.
Also ahead of yesterday’s game, Head Coach Greg Moore was left with a tough decision in goal. With both Joseph Woll and Kasimir Kaskiuo letting up four goals in last night’s tilt, Toronto stuck with their guns and started Kaskisuo. Meanwhile, Rochester looked to Andrew Hammond.
HEY REF! ERR…DROP THE PUCK?
The opening 10 minutes started the way most games do with a feeling-out process. What made this particular instance unique is both teams looked entirely out of gas to start. With both clubs playing last night, there were good chances for all to start. That would change later in the first.
Minuets later, tensions would boil over, and Andrew MacWilliam and Rich Clune dropped the gloves. The scrap would be enough to wind up the 6,714 fans and move momentum towards the Marlies. Jeremy Bracco faked his shot and ripped a pass to Kalle Kossila, who finished the mission in the slot to open up scoring.
Moments later, Kenny Agostino would park himself in the corner with space and time, ready to fire. With the meter running, Agostino found a pass from Pontus Aberg and buried the one-time shot without hesitation.
At 18:24, Rochester inked the scoresheet for the first time with Casey Mittelstadt potting the Amerks opening goal passed Kaskisuo. MacWilliam and Jean-Sebastien Dea both got helpers.
At the end of the first frame, Toronto found themselves sitting comfortably for the second half of the period. After winning the initial fight at the 11:16 mark, they had a spark and recovered composure. Toronto didn’t chase the play for the second half. With the late goal by Rochester, it would be hard not to think that the momentum may have changed going into the intermission.
The only goal of the second period came from the Americans. Lawrence Pilut fired a laser from the point and cashed in Rochester’s second of the game. Coming through traffic, it notched his 21st point of the season.
— SinBinMarlies (@SinBinMarlies) January 4, 2020
Just like that, the uneventful middle regulation frame was over. Sure, there were scoring chances at either end, but it felt like both teams were still trying to get their feet wet. Having a 2-2 game, both Rochester and Toronto had to save their best for last.
Throughout the game, you could see the play of Kaskisuo increase more and more. Throughout the middle stages of the third, it became more and more apparent to fans why he’s on the All-Star Team. Saving 28 of 30 through the first 45 minutes, Kaskisuo appeared as though he couldn’t be beaten.
Out of the blue with 9:36 left to go in the final frame, Kossila drove towards the glove side of the net and pulled the puck towards his stick and ripped one passed Hammond to pull ahead. His second goal of the evening could very well be a play of the month.
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) January 4, 2020
“It was a good break on it, and they didn’t have a very good gap. I had lots of speed, so I tried to take it to the net, and I’m happy it worked this time.” -Kalle Kossila
Not long later, Aberg found himself back on the scoresheet. Driving towards the net, he managed to deflect the shot from Kivihalme.
Egor Korshkov would jump on the train with his slot wrister to pass Hammond. With Kossila getting just enough of a stick to deflect the sliding puck towards the slot, it would give the Marlies the fifth goal on only 27 shots. Toronto’s three unanswered third period tallies were enough to down the visiting Amerks, 5-2.
POSTGAME AND ANALYSIS
“The Hamburglar” Andrew Hammond looked out of gas, to say the least. Though he didn’t play last night, he seemed more drained in the third than anyone else on the ice. His defence may have lacked in the third, but the Marlies outright had his number.
Speaking of that explosive third by the Marlies, when I asked Coach Moore about the final frame, he said the most significant success is team buy-in and a simple game. Toronto kept things simple, and it proved to be the deciding factor in a contest that could have gone either way.
Toronto’s next game comes Sunday against Lehigh Valley at 4:00pm EST. Keep it locked with The Sin Bin and follow @SinBinMarlies on Twitter for live updates.
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— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) January 4, 2020
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