Toronto’s inconsistent play on the road was no better encapsulated than by a pair of games against Atlantic Division teams this past weekend.
First up were the league leading Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, who’ve built their success on a solid defensive foundation.
It was the Marlies who were the better team in every facet, including defense, allowing their hosts just 19 shots on goal through sixty minutes.
Kerby Rychel finally shifted the monkey of his back, netting twice in the first period to set Toronto on their way. Frederik Gauthier scored on a rebound just 4:30 into the second period and the Marlies would have at least doubled their three goal lead without the brilliance of Tristan Jerry in the WBS net.
Antoine Bibeau played a strong game to ensure the shutout and a 3-0 victory.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have a roster stacked with experienced offensive talent and were looking to make a statement against Toronto.
The Phantoms were simply more clinical then the Marlies, seizing upon their opportunities in the opening twenty minutes to build a 2-0 lead.
Toronto’s strong defensive play had been left behind in WBS, as they gave up a late penalty in the first period which lead to a power play goal just twelve seconds into the second period.
The Marlies were a better team for the majority of the middle frame, scoring once through Byron Froese but missed a host of other chances to fail in putting the home team under any real pressure.
The third period was an embarrassment as Lehigh struck four times and could have reached double figures overall but for Antoine Bibeau, who had been left out to dry by his team-mates.
The final was 7-2, with Milan Michalek netting the second Marlies game.
Toronto’s Royal Winter Fair road trip is now done and dusted.
The Marlies have so far struggled on their travels, with a 3-3-0-1 record away from Ricoh Coliseum and a minus five goal differential.
Thanks to a perfect home record, Toronto sit second in the Eastern Conference behind WBS Pens and fourth overall.
The penalty kill continues to be a source of concern as it drops to 76.6%, ranked 25th in the league.
Toronto aren’t helping their cause by being ranked sixth worst in power play opportunities against, at a rate over five per game.
Away from Toronto, the Orlando Solar Bears parted company with Head Coach Anthony Noreen.
Drake Berehowsky has been re-hired, having coached the Solar Bears during the 2012-13 season.
Orlando have struggled on home ice with just two wins in seven games and own a .500 record overall.
Antoine Bibeau recorded his third shutout of the season during the win against WBS Pens.
Though taking a shelling in Lehigh, there’s only one goal he would possibly like back but the team failed to bail him out when the puck was loose in his crease.
Garret Sparks was the back-up on both occasions this weekend and somewhat surprisingly wasn’t given the start in Lehigh. He’s started just one of the last nine games, though some of that is due to injury.
After a visit from Piero Greco, Kasimir Kaskisuo recorded his first professional shutout in Orlando Saturday night. The Finnish goaltender also played well on Sunday despite taking the loss, and if there are issues with Sparks, perhaps there is the possibility that the two will be swapped around.
Kerby Rychel was finally rewarded for consistent performances by breaking his goal drought. He was rather unfortunate not to claim a hat-trick or more against WBS and hopefully he can now kick on with extra confidence finding the net brings.
Milan Michalek notched his first Marlies point and then goal over the weekend. He’s certainly proving himself as one of the better veterans on the Marlies right now.
Byron Froese notched his sixth goal of the season, just one behind Kasperi Kapanen for the team lead.
Trevor Moore was back in the line-up for the first time since October 29. The rookie replaced Colin Greening and has made noticeable strides forwards this season already.
He’s riding a three game point streak and his performance against Lehigh (one bright spot in a dire game) will make it tough for Sheldon Keefe to consider leaving him out for the next outing.
Brendan Leipsic continues to lead the AHL scoring race (17), but only by a solitary point.
Two assists for him extends the point streak to five games.
Josh Leivo’s conditioning stint will officially end on Saturday, as an extension was granted.
He is pointless through four games, registering eight shots during that time. His best performance was against WBS, where he was unfortunate not to record any numbers next to his name on the score sheet.
Travis Dermott continues to be an injury absentee with no word on his status or timeline on return.
William Wrenn has been suiting up in Dermott’s place.
Colin Greening was a healthy scratch for the first time this season and could be spending some time on the sidelines with Trevor Moore and Rich Clune desperate for an opportunity.
Saturday, November 19 2016
St. John’s IceCaps @ Toronto Marlies 5:00 pm EST
Sunday, November 20 2016
St. John’s IceCaps @ Toronto Marlies 3:00 pm EST