The Toronto Marlies continual failure to learn from their mistakes, ensured they dropped to a third straight loss.
After facing the league’s top team and the North Division leaders in the past two outings, this was an easier task on paper.
Rochester had also lost two straight heading into this game and were having to deal with injuries and a sickness bug sweeping through their team.
After a promising first 15 minutes that saw them dominate proceedings and open the scoring, slowly but surely Toronto’s penchant for individual errors would end up proving the difference.
The home team began brightly, drawing a penalty 21 seconds in.
Kerby Rychel came the closest to making the visitors pay but the shoot on sight policy set the right tone for the home team.
It took just over three minutes for Toronto to open their account. A fine individual effort from Colin Greening, who managed to beat three Rochester players before firing past the left arm of Linus Ullmark.
The Marlies were driving hard to the net at every opportunity, something Bobby Shea took exception too at the six minute mark. The Rochester defenseman decided to crosscheck Rich Clune in front before dropping the gloves. Clune easily won this fight with a flurry of quick punches, and Shea was fortunate not to be given extra penalty minutes for instigating or the initial crosscheck.
With Kapanen out injured, Brendan Leipsic was doing everything he could to make up for the huge hole the Finnish winger absence’s leaves in the line-up
He and Byron Froese combined with a give-and-go move but the latter was unable to beat Ullmark from in tight.
At the midway mark of the period, Toronto would take control for a three minute spell where upon they utterly dominated possession and offensive zone time.
More excellent work from Leipsic teed up Frank Corrado but the defenseman’s long range effort hit the post.
William Wrenn made a head’s up play to find Tony Cameranesi driving down the middle of the ice but his slapshot was turned aside.
Cameranesi then took matters into his own zone, driving hard to the net, but Ullmark made a smart left pad save to deny him.
Greening would draw a penalty, though Toronto’s power play would struggle to create much on their second opportunity. One effort from Andreas Johnsson would lead to a hectic scramble in front but the Amerks cleared the danger.
As the penalty to Brycen Martin expired, Rochester had themselves a 3-on-1 break which was only denied by a fine piece of defensive play from Travis Dermot.
That sloppiness set the tone for the remaining five minutes of play and Rochester were gifted their first man advantage opportunity.
The Marlies penalty kill stood firm, with Greening, Froese and Leipsic especially prominent.
Back at even strength, a pair of turnovers from Johnsson and Wrenn wouldn’t prove costly but the Amerks would come close to tying the game on a pair of great chances.
Nick Baptiste blew by Leipsic in the left circle, who somehow ended up playing as a defenseman. Thankfully Bibeau was alert and from the top of the crease smothered the effort from Rochester’s top goal scorer.
Justin Holl was the next to turn the puck over, handing possession straight to Cole Schneider.
Bibeau performed a piece of robbery to ensure his team carried a narrow lead into the middle frame.
As they had in the opening period, Toronto began the second with a good tempo, spending extended time in Rochester’s end.
Unable to create anything resembling a scoring chance, Rochester would score on their first foray into Toronto’s zone.
The Marlies missed opportunities to clear their zone and lost several battles along the wall. This would enable Tim Kennedy to find Casey Nelson, who released a snapshot that beat Bibeau through a host of traffic in front of the crease.
Bibeau was now facing a barrage and he made a wonderful save to deny Alex Nylander during an odd-man rush.
Another turnover from Holl presented a chance from Jean Dupuy but Toronto’s goaltender bailed out his team-mates once again.
A piece of individual play from Colin Smith broke the rhythm of Rochester’s attack. Driving between two Amerks players, Smith sped around the back of the net but would be denied on the wraparound attempt, though drew a penalty with the move.
Toronto would be fortunate not to allow a short-handed goal as they allowed the visitors a 2-on-1 break. Cal O’Reilly would be denied not once, but twice by Bibeau as the game remained tied.
A second straight power play would prove even more abysmal, as Toronto failed to set up once in the offensive zone, barely able to string two passes together.
The little impetus brought about by the fourth line after two failed power plays, quickly dissipated after another error which on this occasion proved costly.
From deep in his own end, Trevor Moore flipped the puck down the middle of the zone which allowed Justin Bailey to pick off the pass.
In alone on Bibeau, Bailey produced a top draw finish to give Toronto’s goaltender little chance and the Amerks now led 2-1.
Cameranesi would have two half chances to tie the game but was unable to pull the trigger on consecutive backdoor feeds from Clune and Rychel.
With their abysmal losing record when trailing through forty minutes, Toronto required a better start to the third than they were able to muster.
Andrew Nielsen turned the puck over in the neutral zone to Cal O’Reilly. Not the fastest player on the ice, Rochester’s captain was still able to show enough speed to breakaway on goal alone but Bibeau yet again turned him aside.
Dmytro Timashov then headed to the box, and though the penalty was seen off without danger, Toronto were off the pace until the eight minute mark.
Leipsic was a constant thorn in the visitors side with his ability to carry the puck with speed through the neutral zone and across the blue line. On one such move he curled around until between the circles before letting go a wicked shot. Ullmark made the save but Johnsson couldn’t force home the rebound in front as the Amerks cleared their lines.
That sparked a spell of pressure from the home team, Greening going close on two occasions and Brett Findlay saw his effort well held.
A blast from Andrew Campbell was also well held by Rochester’s goaltender as Toronto attempted to crash the net and create difficulties for him.
It all proved fruitless and the game appeared dead and buried with five minutes remaining.
Yet another turnover, this time William Wrenn the culprit, and Rochester made him pay.
Within a flash it was Dan Catenacci and Bailey combining to present Dupuy with his first goal of the season.
Sheldon Keefe must be sick of pulling his goaltender this season and in a Hail Mary type move, Bibeau exited proceedings as soon as Toronto won the puck from the restart.
For once it paid dividends, as a fantastic reverse pass from Froese across the crease found Leipsic backdoor and the left winger made no mistake.
With three minutes left on the clock, Dermott found Leipsic in a similarly position to where he’d scored from. Unfortunately there was a little bit too much pace on the pass for Leipsic to handle and he wasn’t able to get away his shot as intended.
Bibeau exited the net once more with a little over a minute to play but there would be no heroic comeback as Toronto slipped to their third straight defeat.
Post Game Notes:
This was the fifth consecutive defeat in which the Marlies lost by a single goal.
Toronto slip to sixth in the North Division, tied on points percentage with the bottom ranked Binghamton Senators.
Toronto are now 1-4-1-0 in the season series with Rochester, with four games still to play.
The power play went 0/4 and was progressively worse as the game wore on.
Consecutive multi-point games for Brendan Leipsic, who takes his seasonal tally to 36 from 31 games.
Travis Dermott recorded two assists for his first points of 2017. He’s still to register his first professional goal.
One of Colin Greening’s better game’s this season as he influenced proceedings at different junctures. Toronto require him to step up and build on his inadequate production so far this season.
Tobias Lindberg was hurt in the first period following a hit by Dan Catenacci and would fail to return for the rest of the game. Injury appeared to be upper body and possibly favoured his left arm.
Kasperi Kapanen is out indefinitely according to Sheldon Keefe. Unconfirmed reports is that it’s an ankle injury of some kind.
With Garret Sparks called up, the Marlies signed goaltender Taylor Dupuis to an ATO contract.
Formerly of the Sudbury Wolves and Sarnia Sting, Dupuis has spent the last two years playing Canadian University hockey for Ryerson.