Toronto Marlies 10 Rochester Americans 5 (Ricoh Coliseum)
That film title perfectly reflects up each period of play for the Toronto Marlies, although not necessarily in that order.
Playing an Amerks team who struggle to score with much regularity, the Marlies barely reached third gear and almost paid the price for little structure and individuals looking to take liabilities.
The first period was “The Bad” as both teams and the officials played out a forgettable opening twenty minutes. Kasperi Kapanen would be guilty of firing high with Toronto’s best early opportunity but the first goal came with less than three minutes on the clock.
T.J Brennan drove into the offensive zone down the left wing and decided to let fly from the top of the circle. Striking a rolling puck, the shot appeared to deceive Linus Ullmark in the Rochester net and went in off his glove.
Rochester would tie the game up a mere 87 seconds later as Toronto contrived to play some awful defense in their own zone. With the Marlies guilty of puck watching and getting caught down low, William Carrier was allowed to throw a pass out in front and despite Tim Schaller failing to jam the puck home, defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti was on hand to apply the last touch.
Toronto would score themselves exactly 90 seconds later but there was a hitch. The lone referee whistling the play dead, despite the goaltender not having control of the puck before Rich Clune buried his opportunity. One of many questionable calls during this afternoon game by the three man officiating crew.
T.J Brennan had a wonderful game offensively but he made a tremendous defensive diving play to deny Rochester during an odd man rush with the game tied at one.
The home team reclaimed the lead and it was all about William Nylander. Spinning from the left to the centre of the ice, leaving Rochester player’s in his wake, the Swedish forward sniped home his 18th of the season. Once again it was a short lived lead as the Amerks tied the game 31 seconds into the first power play of the game. Bobby Sanguinetti with his second of the afternoon but there was a certain whiff of goaltender interference before the goal was awarded.
Tied at two a piece after twenty minutes, the middle frame would prove to be “the ugly” as Toronto allowed themselves to be out-shot 19-7 but still hold a lead after seven goals had been tallied.
The carnage began 32 seconds in. Brennan looked to be searching for Sam Carrick down low with a pass, but the puck rebounded off a defenseman into the path of Colin Smith alone in front of the blue paint. The recent addition from San Antonio duly scored his first goal as a member of the Toronto Marlies.
It became 4-2 inside three minutes of the period as Viktor Loov stepped into a shot from the blue line which found it’s way past Ullmark.
It should have been three goals in five minutes but Kapanen was unable to slide a pass across to Andrew Campbell who would have had a tap-in.
The visitors would pull within one with more success on the powerplay. If Rochester’s second goal was debateable then surely this was goaltender interference, but despite shoving Antoine Bibeau, Evan Rodrigues’ effort was allowed to stand.
Toronto went straight down the ice on the resulting shift, with Soshnikov and Clune both contriving not to score with Ullmark pulling out one good save in-between.
The two-goal cushion would be restored thanks to some generosity from the Amerks. A clearance from behind the visitors net went straight to Carrick but his attempted shot took a weird deflection. The puck seemed to remain in the air for the longest time but on hand was Matt Frattin to bat it in back-handed to make the score 5-3. The game was only at it’s midway point at this stage and thoughts were turning towards another possible 9-8 score line.
That looked even more likely when Rochester scored for the third straight occasion on the power play through Phil Varone. Bibeau looked shaky on that goal but he would be let down less than a minute later as the Amerks tied the game at five. Carrier allowed to stand in front alone and redirect a shot from Chad Ruhwedel with the Marlies defense AWOL.
That meant ten goals had been scored in 35 minutes and these teams weren’t done yet.
Smith had a game to remember and he turned provider this time around, holding the puck up waiting for support in the form of Carrick arriving to his right. With Smith putting the pass right on Carrick’s tape, Sam’s momentum relayed into a wicked shot as the puck his the twine before Ullmark could move.
Former Manchester United Manager Alex Ferguson was famous for throwing tea-cups at half time when he wasn’t happy with his team’s performance and you wouldn’t have blamed Sheldon Keefe for following suit in some manner during the second intermission.
Whatever was said in the room had the desired effect as Toronto played a “good” third period.
Nathan Lieuwen replaced Linus Ullmark between the pipes to begin the final frame but it made little difference.
Rochester continued to try and crash the net and upset Bibeau who must have been feeling the strain of the way this game was turning out. It backfired for the Amerks as 4-on-4 hockey resulted and Toronto made it 7-5. Frattin was all too easily afford possession behind the right side of the net and he had the easy task of sliding the puck to an unchallenged Colin Smith to score his second goal.
The Marlies would only receive one power play opportunity but they would make full use of it.
Connor Brown and Nylander playing pitch and catch before switching the play over to Brennan, who unbelievably had been left well alone in the right circle. His one time effort gave the unfortunate Lieuwen little chance.
Down by three goals, Rochester knew the game was up and it petered out as a contest after the Marlies were finally able to kill a pair of penalties .
With an empty net, Brennan came close to scoring his hat-trick but Viktor Loov score the ninth.
He was trying to find Smith for his third goal, but the defenseman’s intended pass was too hard for his team-mate and banked off the right boards and into the yawning cage
Nine became ten with just over a minute to play as Brett Findlay, very much like Loov, tried to set-up a team-mate. His intended pass to Tobias Lindberg was deflected by a defenseman past Lieuwen to finally finish the scoring and utter madness of this game.
Post Game Notes:
Toronto scored a season high 10 goals, last accomplished February 8, 2009 against the Grand Rapids Griffins, also a 10-5 victory. The Marlies are the first team this season to score ten goals in a game.
Toronto lead the season series with Rochester 5-0-0-0, out-scoring the Amerks a staggering 28-8.
With the Reimer trade resulting in Garret Sparks being called up, David Ayres (yes the Zamboni driver) signed an ATO before the game to back up Antoine Bibeau.
Two goals and three assists for T.J Brennan to give him 55 points in as many games.
It’s the second time in his AHL career that’s he’s registered five points in a single game (the first time was playing for Rochester ironically).
The last time a Toronto Marlies player achieved Brennan’s feat game was February 26, 2012, when Nicolas Deschamps also helped himself to two goals and three assists.
What a way to get off the mark. Colin Smith announced himself with a pair of goals and assists.
Sam Carrick continues to roll offensively since his return. A goal and a helper to extend his point streak to three games.