As those who could tolerate the Fox Sports commentators and the poor camera angles can attest to, the Marlies staged a late comeback effort to win 4-3 in shootout over the Grand Rapids Griffins in the Hockeytown Winter Festival Outdoor game. The Marlies sit 17-10-3 at the 30-game pole and now lead the North Division by three points over Hamilton with three games in hand.
This Marlies team is interesting to watch, in the sense that there is a contradistinction between their style of play and that of the big club. Aside from Spencer Abott, who at least to me appears to be more of a good AHL player than anything more, there isn’t a ton of stand out talent up front, which is something the Leafs organization needs to change. However, they put in the work and Steve Spott seems to have his team bought in and committed to the gamplan.
Perhaps a product of some of those Brian Burke acquisitions and mid round draft picks, every check gets finished, the team plays a heavy dump and chase game, retrieves pucks well, and works the boards repetitively on the cycle. Tonight, they took down a more skilled team like Grand Rapids for the second time this season in part by doing this very thing.
In some respects this game was an odd one in terms of some of the goals scored; three of them were especially flukey, including two on McIntyre that went off his skate/pad and in. Kevin Marshall opened the scoring early in the 1st by sending a flutterball in on Thomas McCollum that fooled the Griffins goalie despite a clean look.
Among the other Marlie goal scorers were Carter Ashton, who recorded his 9th of the season (in 12 games) and sixth in seven since returning to the Marlies in mid December. Kenny Ryan, who has been out injured for much of the season, scored his second goal (8 games played) of the year to tie this game up later on in the proceedings with the Marlies trailing 3-2.
After a rocky performance in regulation, Drew McIntyre showed off his great athleticism in turning away four Grand Rapids shooters in the shootout. Spencer Abbott added a beautiful shootout tally to his two-assist account on the night, while Greg McKegg supplemented his assist with a nice, water-bottle-popping (relax Clarkson, it was one of the good guys) backhand finish in the shootout.
Game in 6: