The last time the Toronto Marlies were on an extended point streak, it was their rivals from St. John’s who ended that.
History repeated itself Sunday afternoon, in what was a very disjointed performance from the Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum, with mental breakdowns and individual errors the reason they failed to take a single point.
The opening period was a perfect example of the negative side of Toronto’s performance outweighing the positive.
A fast start saw chances for Brett Findlay and Matt Frattin inside the opening three minutes.
A lazy holding penalty called on Leivo turned the tide for a while with Ray Emery only called into action for the final twenty seconds of the kill, but he made two sharp saves from booming shots with traffic in front.
The opening goal of the game was down to some hard work and little surprise to see the highly effective Brendan Leipsic involved again. He and Zach Hyman battle hard behind the IceCaps net to win possession, before Leipsic came out with the puck to the right of Eddie Pasquale’s net. Finding Findlay crashing to the net, Pasquale denied the first effort but Hyman had followed the play to the net and was on hand to put home the loose puck.
It was a lead that only lasted four minutes as Josh Leivo was once more called for an unnecessary holding penalty. With 15 seconds left on the power play, Michael Bournival scored on what was the third attempt after efforts from Gabriel Dumont and Darren Dietz were denied by Emery.
After a calamitous error while in the St. John’s zone by the Marlies, Dumont should have been on a breakaway with 30 seconds to play but the home team were fortunate that Mac Bennet was called for cross-checking on the play
Toronto were out-shot 14-7 in the opening period and but would re-take the lead early in the middle frame just as the power play carried over for the opening twenty minutes, expired.
A fantastic seeing eye feed from Soshnikov found Leipsic down low on the left wing and his one time effort gave Pasquale no chance.
The home team were now in the ascendancy and earned another power play that saw Mark Arcobello hit the post.
Carrying the majority of the play, the biggest criticism was the lack of shots fired at net as St. John’s proved adept at denying the final pass on the more intricate play’s Toronto were attempting.
The next best opportunity for Toronto came courtesy of a horrific giveaway from the IceCaps. Carrick was the beneficiary but his shot from between the hash marks only brought a fantastic glove save from Pasquale.
Sixty seconds later and Richard Panik was millimetre’s away from finding Arcobello for what would have been a certain goal.
The third goal eventually came and was simple in it’s execution. A clean offensive zone face-off win by Sam Carrick saw the puck fly directly back to Justin Holl. Marlies players piled toward the net as Holl wound up and his effort found it’s way through the maze in front and past Pasquale.
The two goal advantage lasted just 38 seconds as Toronto had a mental letdown.
Rich Clune the guilty party with the turnover and Bud Holloway found Joel Hanley with a cross crease pass to score his third of the season.
Dietz should have tied the game with 90 seconds remaining in the period but his blast from the high slot was denied by Emery, who only had to make five saves during the middle frame.
Despite Toronto’s dominance during the second period, they were still guilty of giving the puck away too cheaply and not doing enough with possession in the offensive zone.
They would be made to pay as St. John’s came roaring out of the gate early in the third period.
Holl was caught out of position, allowing Lucas Lessio to speed down the left side unattended. His wraparound attempt brought a rebound that ended up loose in the slot and there was no one at home wearing a white jersey to stop Holloway tying the game up a mere 35 seconds in.
It was a terrific finish from the IceCaps leading scorer but the errors, positional or otherwise were coming thick and fast, and would ultimately allow the visitors to take a lead at 5:28.
Jacob De La Rose stripped the puck off of T.J Brennan before driving to the net and roofing a backhand shot past the yet again stranded Emery.
Toronto never looked like tying the game and a power play with nine minutes to play failed to produce any semblance of a real chance.
It would take until 1:22 to play and pulling Emery for an extra attacker for the Marlies to find a way through the IceCaps. Rinat Valiev showed patience way beyond his tender years, out-witting Dumont with a faked pass to give him some room and a lane from which to fire a low shot which appeared to handcuff a slightly unsighted Pasquale.
That should have been enough to secure at least a point but the Marlies proved their own worst enemy for the umpteenth time.
McCarron and then Bournival were too easily afford possession along the boards, and the feed in front found Dumont. The IceCaps captain was equally afforded too much space in front and his shot trickled through Emery, who may have been disappointed to let that one past him, but he was again let down by his team-mates.
A 5-4 final reverse despite a late flurry from the Marlies, whose only kryptonite this season appears to be those pesky rivals from St. John’s
Post Game Notes:
Marlies record in December now 9-1-1. Their ten game point streak was one shy of the previous best this season.
Toronto’s last three defeats in regulation have all been at the hands of St. John’s, truly their kryptonite during this otherwise incredible season, with a series record of 2-3-1.
Brendan Leipsic produced another outstanding display and three points to boot. His biggest haul in a single game this season.
Rinat Valiev became the fourth Marlies defenseman to hit the double figure mark in points this season.
Four points in his last two games, taking use of the extra offensive opportunities afforded to him.
Zach Hyman scored his third goal in five games.
Eight of his 17 points have been accrued in his last ten games and he’s the leading rookie scorer for the Marlies.
Mark Arcobello is now riding a seven game point streak (4G/5A), beating his previous best of six, which was achieved at the start of his Marlies career.
A notable scratch for today was Andrew Campbell, while Stuart Percy and Frederick Gauthier have missed both games post Christmas.