This game review should be waxing lyrical about the performance of Rob Madore and Andrew Campbell’s remarking scoring record, but instead the focus will be on the events either side of the game.
During the warm-up, the visiting Syracuse Crunch came together with the Toronto Marlies at the red line on two occasions and things became quite heated, although no punches were thrown.
The game up until late in the second period showed no signs of the animosity pre-puck drop, but after various altercations, including a fight between Sam Carrick and Anthony DeAngelo, the final buzzer saw both benches clear. The tipping point being that Syracuse failed to clear out of the Toronto zone as the buzzer sounded, and as the Marlies players went to congratulate Rob Madore, Tanner Richard took a totally unnecessary cheap shot at Rich Clune from behind. The Syracuse centreman must have known the consequences of his action would be severe and Clune responded by unleashing a series of rapid fire punches. If the idea was to get Clune suspended, then plan well executed, as he was given five for fighting and two game misconduct penalties, something the AHL disciplinary panel will doubtless take a hard line on.
Rich Clune should probably have shown more restraint but it leaves a bad taste when Tanner failed to be penalised for his actions.
Perhaps the league should take into account that once more they allowed a game to take place with only three officials assigned. A situation that failed to help the entirety of the game during the sixty minutes, let alone the events after play had finished. Let’s not forget what happened to Kasperi Kapanen earlier this season with just a three man crew present.
Between the fighting, a hockey game broke out and when the fists weren’t flying it was an entertaining encounter between two teams desperate for points for differing reasons.
By winning three of their last four game, the Crunch had hoisted themselves to a record over .500 and ninth in the Eastern Conference.
They would be thankful to goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis for denying Clune from the high slot just thirty seconds in. Leipsic was taken out by a linesman but threw himself forward to tip the puck to Carrick, who wasted little time in finding Clune on his left.
Syracuse responded with a rush from Yanni Gourde, but the left winger lost control of the puck at the last second.
It’d be the visitors who opened the scoring three minutes in. McGinn with the pinpoint pass to Peca, who had the step on Loov and showed great speed down the left and then vision to pick out Jeff Tambellini on the right wing. With his stick cocked and locked waiting for the feed, Tambellini smashed his effort past Madore in the blink of an eye.
Nikita Soshnikov almost tied the game up right away while Mike Blunden tried to extend the advantage for Syracuse with a wraparound attempt.
T.J Brennan was the next to try his luck on a one time effort but Gudlevskis did well to get enough of his body behind the shot to deny the defensemen.
The first and only real indication of any bad blood between the sides during the opening frame came after Brendan Leipsic was hooked, drawing a penalty. Slow to get up, when Leipsic finally got to his haunches, Syracuse defenseman Jake Dotchin gave him a little shot and drew the attention of Carrick who squared up to him.
Toronto failed to set-up on the powerplay and chances were at a premium until the final three minutes when Madore was called upon to make a scrambling save.
T.J Brennan would be unable to corral a rebound effort from his defensive partner Scott Harrington and could only watch Gudlevskis glove a booming shot from the point on another effort..
It’s take just 13 seconds for Toronto to tie the game up in the second period. Leipsic was duly nailed along the back boards, but Frattin was able to separate the puck from his Syracuse opponent, sending it back to Leipsic. From behind the net the left winger picked out Carrick who sniped home in a flash.
Syracuse would feel they should have re-taken the lead within seconds but on an out-numbered rush, Mike Angelidis whiffed on a one-time attempt, allowing Madore to smother the puck.
Zach Hyman released a wicked shot that produced a huge looping rebound while Ryan Rupert was presented with a chance from the high slot on a broken play but his effort was bravely blocked.
Toronto’s pressure resulted in a power play but the Syracuse was too aggressive and too good for the home team to handle, as they managed just a single shot on net.
Madore kept the game tied with a pair of flashy glove saves but his work was undone with 6:35 to play in the middle frame. From behind their own net, Toronto decided throwing the puck up the middle of the ice was a good idea. Dotchin did well to keep the puck inside the blue line and shifted the puck to Tye McGinn in a ton of space. The Ontario native wasted little time in roofing the puck over the shoulder of Madore, a great finish to put his team up 2-1.
The home team were in no mood to be trailing after two periods and tied things up just a minute later.
Josh Leivo did well to hold onto the puck down low on the left wing before performing a fantastic spin play around his man and then finding Hyman. The rookie would have been disappointed not to score with his shot but the rebound fell to the right circle and in walked Justin Holl to slam the puck by Gudlevskis.
The Syracuse goaltender had no chance with that rocket of a shot but he produced a top notch save to make sure his team were level after forty minutes.
Leipsic found Frattin down low to the left of the goal, and his wonderful reverse pass across the crease found Carrick, who would be robbed by Gudlevskis.
In the early goings of the third period, a curious no call from the officials would ultimately help the Marlies. It looked for all the world as though Holl was being held but play was allowed to continue and on a rush, the aforementioned defenseman combined with Hyman but the rookie once more would be denied. Twenty seconds later it was the same story for Hyman, as yet again Gudlevskis turned his shot aside but similarly to the second goal, the puck rebounded a fair way out and stepping onto it was Andrew Campbell to rifle home from the top of the left circle.
Toronto had a power play opportunity a minute after taking their first lead of the game but their play with the man advantage lacked conviction and bar a long range effort from Leivo and a bank-in attempt from Frattin, Syracuse killed the penalty with ease.
The first power play for the road team resulted in the first fight of the game, a far longer wait than most watching this game expected. Madore was absolutely buried after making a strong save in the crease. Whether words were said or not, Carrick took a shot at Matthew Peca and in came Anthony DeAngelo to protect his team-mate. A bad move by the rookie as Carrick promptly filled him in, with the fight ending as quickly as it began.
Syracuse would quickly be handed a second power play on what was another dubious call. Leipsic tried to score with a backhand net upon driving to the net. He would end up in the cage, on top of Gudlevskis thanks to the assistance of Matt Taormina, but the Toronto forward was called for goaltender interference regardless.
The always impressive Nikita Soshnikov almost scored short-handed after a between the legs move saw him beat two Syracuse players on his way to the net, but his backhand effort would be turned aside.
A power play for Toronto with 3:30 to play almost saw them cough up the lead, as they seemed not to know whether to stick or twist with the extra man.
Jeff Tambellini would be sent off on a breakaway after a cheap turnover in the Syracuse zone but there was Madore to deny him with another flash of the glove that Marlies fans are becoming highly accustomed to seeing.
The drama wasn’t done with as with 73 seconds remaining, Hyman was called for holding and Syracuse immediately pulled their goaltender. A bizarre call as Taormina actually had a hold of Hyman’s stick.
Either way it was cometh the hour, cometh the man as Madore stood up to be counted.
Moving right to left, Madore first denied Richard with a swift pad save before swallowing up a big shot from Tambellini, not allowing a second chance for Syracuse on the play.
The home crowd sensed their team were in trouble and roared in delight when two Marlies players dove to make sure the puck skipped outside the blue line with ten seconds left on the clock.
Madore would be called on to make one final save in the last second to secure the win, before carnage broke out after the final buzzer.
Post Game Notes:
Rob Madore might well be the third string goalie for the Marlies but he’s only given up five goals in his three games, all of which have resulted in victories.
Zach Hyman has been progressing well through the season and is now producing the points to go along with his performances. A pair of assists takes his tally to 19 points.
Sam Carrick went pointless in his last outing, breaking a six game streak. He scored once today and could have had at least one or two more. He’s stepped into the breach offensively with the Marlies stripped of their better talent.
Andrew Campbell scored his eight goal of the season, and his third that has proved to be the game winner. A timely return to scoring after going seven games without a tally. Just six points shy of equalling his best of points haul in a single season (19).
These two teams will face one another Sunday afternoon at Ricoh Coliseum with a 3pm puck drop.