MLHS is pleased to have Daniel Kovalevsky, better known as Pent_House around these parts, contributing some Marlies writings going forward.
A pivotal match against the Montreal Canadien’s AHL affiliate, The Hamilton Bull-Dogs, awaited the Marlies at the Ricoh on Saturday, as these divisional foes met up for their 5th of 12 regular season contests. Along with being the Battle of Ontario in the AHL, this game was important for the Marlies as these teams are divisional rivals in a tightly-grouped North Division, with the 4th place Bulldogs only 2 points behind the 1st place Marlies. The Marlies came into the game with the Western Conference’s highest home ice winning percentage, with 8 wins in 10 home-games (.800%). The Marlies have been playing at the top of their game recently, winning 6 of their last 8 games and, despite having one of the youngest squads in the AHL, have managed to stay atop of the North Division. With the Ricoh being a tough building to play in for road teams, recent hot play for a rested Marlies team, and a tired Bulldogs team, the Marlies came into this game hoping to take full advantage and to create some separation in the standings.
“The Marlies posted a record of 1-0-1-0 in two games this past week. On Friday night, Toronto traveled down the QEW for their third meeting of the season against the Hamilton Bulldogs, AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. Despite Josh Leivo scoring his first goal of the season just over five minutes into the game, the Marlies were defeated 2-1 in overtime. Martin St. Pierre tallied both goals for the Bulldogs, while goaltender Drew MacIntyre stopped 35 of 37 shots in the loss.
The Rockford IceHogs, AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, defeated the Toronto Marlies by a score of 3-2 Wednesday night at Ricoh Coliseum.
Greg McKegg’s second goal of the season opened the scoring at 4:18 of the first period. The Marlies would take a 2-0 lead on Carter Ashton’s second goal in as many games. Rockford tied the game at two on goals from both Alex and Terry Broadhurst before the end of the period. Jeremy Morin notched his 4th goal of the season with under six minutes remaining in regulation to give the IceHogs their 5th victory of the season.
The Marlies return to the ice on Saturday evening when they host the Rochester Americans, AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres, at 5 p.m. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling the team’s ticket line at 416-597-PUCK (7825).
The Leafs are officially in the midst of their first losing “streak” of the season. Tuesday’s contest sees the 7-1 Anaheim Ducks visit town, which will be another difficult test for a Leafs team who have yet to really hit their stride despite being 6-3 on the season. The Ducks shellacked the Stars 6-3 last night, and Getzlaf, Perry, Jakub Silfverberg, Selanne and Mathieu Perreault, who is getting a chance to center their second line, are all off to hot starts.
Alec Brownscombe caught up with Director of Player Development Jim Hughes to touch base on the performances and progress of the younger members of the Leaf organization after the completion of 2013 training camp.
Welcome to the Battle of Ontario edition of our Rookie Tournament coverage.
As we all know, Ottawa sucks and while I have no idea who will dress for the Baby Leafs tonight at this point, I can’t imagine that we’ll have any problem walking all over them; their parents probably won’t even watch out of shame and embarrassment.
The Leafs have won both of their games in the tourney so far and the players who you’d expect to standout have done just that. Brad Ross, Morgan Rielly, Stuart Percy, Petter Granberg, and Josh Leivo (before his injury) have all been great and Zach Yuen turned a few heads in last night’s game.
It will be interesting to see who gets into the lineup today — you’d have to think that management is hoping to get a long look at some of these prospects against like-aged players before NHL camps start.
So with Rielly, Leivo, MacWilliam, McKegg, and Sparks all sitting this game out and Finn leaving mysteriously after a period of play, you might have guessed that this would be a tough one for the Leafs rookies but you’d be wrong.
Stuart Percy was the best player on the ice, and Brad Ross was the best forward for either team pacing the Leafs to a 4-3 shootout win over a Penguins team with no competent forwards.
Zachary Yuen was probably the game’s biggest surprise. He had a solid game in every respect and almost certainly opened some eyes with his performance tonight; I wouldn’t be surprised to see him dressed again tomorrow for the team to get a better look.
The game itself was a back and forth affair, starting with a bang in the first (Pitt goal, 2 fights, Tor goal) and ending with a fizzle (shootouts are kinda lame).
Toronto’s first goal was scored by Matt Rupert on the PP. With Biggs providing the traffic in front, a rebound from a point shot found its way to Rupert’s stick and he punched it in.
The second goal was scored by Fabrice Herzog after some nice retrieval work by Ross and Verhaeghe and a pretty sweet behind the back pass from Ross. Herzog was given too much time in front and he took advantage of it.
Toronto’s third goal was a nice little passing play between Andrew Crescenzi and Jamie Devane in transition with Crescenzi potting the goal on a first touch shot, over the goalie’s shoulder.
Shootout goals were scored by Ross and Percy — the Leafs’ two best players tonight.
With that, the Leafs move to 2-0 on the tournament and will play against Ottawa’s rookies tomorrow night. Hopefully we’ll get to see some more of Leivo and Rielly, and with any luck whatever took Finn out of tonight’s game isn’t anything serious.
With Brian Burke back in the news, it’s fitting that his greatest contribution to the Maple Leafs – a rebuilt farm system — take center stage in the days leading up to actual meaningful hockey. The Baby Leafs have a gold-plated defense group and a forward contingent that breaks down fairly nicely into scoring lines and checking lines; the lines should pretty much roll themselves.
With players like Morgan Rielly trying to make an impact prior to the start of Leafs camp, and guys like Leivo, Biggs, and Percy looking to solidify key roles with the Marlies, the stakes are a lot higher for these kids than they may seem to fans on the surface. These aren’t your typical pre-season games and they’ll provide a great glimpse at what the future has in store for the big club.
The Maple Leafs’ annual Rookie Tournament is upon us. Toronto hosts Chicago Jr. tonight at the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario. Toronto Maple Leafs new and ‘not-so-old’ will have a chance to display their talents for the Maple Leafs Brass in what should be an entertaining tilt of careful pre-pre-season stepping and spirited verbal jousting.
For all your basic rookie tournament info needs, the Leafs’ official website pretty much has you covered. View the roster and schedule breakdown. Read the primer for tonight’s game, which includes broadcast details. Or watch an interview with Marlies coach Steve Spott in which he talks about the weekend’s promise and touches on a few key roster points.
But most importantly, join the party at MLHS and follow @TOTruculent as I live-Twitter tonight’s action! Embedded below, for your non-having-to-switch-tabs pleasure.
I’ll be covering the action from the press box in London. Check back here for updates throughout the night, and a post-game recap. Unless things go really poorly right at the end, in which case I’ll be locked in a dark room, fighting off a wave of painful flashbacks to May 13th.
The Leafs outshot the Blackhawks 14-6 in the first period, despite a healthy amount of play taking place in the Leafs’ end in the early going. Early standouts included – as expected – Morgan Rielly, who at any given moment seems like he could do something dangerous. Rielly took two early wrist shots, one from the point and one from the half boards, that both found the net in dangerous ways.
Josh Leivo also made an impact. From creating offense out of situations you wouldn’t normally consider opportunities to using his teammates well, he impressed from the get go and was rewarded with a power play goal. Leivo doesn’t immediately strike you the way his 6’2 frame would suggest, but he uses the size well. Keep an eye on him this fall.
So far, the Leafs’ rookies are by far the better team. Outpacing, outshooting, out puck-moving, out-hockeying. Chicago seemed to land a few more memorable hits, though. Here’s hoping for a truculent second frame.
Marked difference from the first frame. Chicago closed the shot gap, but the Leafs continued a high effort across the board and played pretty solidly for a young team thrown together in recent weeks. A few standouts emerged beyond the first period crowd, providing a great look at some other Leaf prospects.
Tyler Biggs might be one of the more interesting young Leafs. We’re all aware of his purported skating limitations, but on first glance, he’s added speed since my last viewing. In close, the mobility still seems like an issue – but that’s one of the hardest elements of proper skating technique to develop. Nevertheless, he brings a 100% effort level on every shift and gets his job done by making the right play. Gritty. As I mentioned on Twitter and am happy to stand by thus far – from the press box, he looks like David Clarkson in a different jersey.
With all the focus on the Bernier/Reimer debate heading into next season, not much has been made recently of the Leafs’ net depth behind the top two. Garret Sparks has turned in an impressive night so far, stopping several shots through traffic and snagging at least one high, hard snapper with the glove hand impressively enough to make Francois Allaire wonder, “You can do that?”
Also, have I mentioned the power play pairing that is Rielly and Finn? The power play pairing that is Rielly and Finn.
After a comeback by the young Hawks, the Leafs eked it out in a shootout to win 3-2, with Rielly and Biggs coming through in the skills comp for the jr. Leafs. Thus concludes the third period recap, which was truncated in favour of running downstairs for the postgame scrums.
The Leafs’ rookies took the tournament opener as a result of their energy, skill, and goaltending. They outpaced a Chicago group that was forced to rely more on physicality to gain ground. They caught the Leafs temporarily, but in the end Toronto came away with a win they probably deserved.
Check the period summaries above for a few observations on the standouts (Rielly, Leivo, Sparks) and watch the Game in Six below. Notable highlights from Steve Spott’s postgame scrum:
-On the mobility and skill of his young defensive corps: “Wow.”
-Spott was impressed by the team’s ability to come together quickly and
-He was also enthusiastic about Sparks’ performance, only calling out the first goal as one Garrett might potentially want another shot at.
-Spott confirmed Leivo missed the third period due to a chest contusion suffered when he took a hit earlier in the game.
MLHS’s Michael Stephens conducted an in-person interview with Steve Spott, head coach of the Toronto Marlies, at the Mastercard Centre earlier this week. Spott touched on a wide variety of Marlies-centric stuff, including the biggest challenges facing the team headed into the new season and the opportunities the Leafs prospects will be embarking on in the 2013-14 campaign.
Headlined by first round draft selections Tyler Biggs (2011), Stuart Percy (2011), Morgan Rielly (2012) and Frederik Gauthier (2013), the Maple Leafs’ 2013 prospect tourney roster features one member from the 2008 (Andrew MacWilliam) and 2009 (Jamie Devane) draft classes and then four prospects from each subsequent draft class since 2010.
The Toronto Marlies are poised to announce the hiring of Steve Spott as head coach, replacing Dallas Eakins who departed for the Edmonton Oilers. While many candidates were rumored to be in the mix, it appears Spott gets the nod for his reputation as a developmental coach, something Eakins was well respected for, and certainly a top priority quality needed from the new bench boss.
Thanks to MLHS user “JVR” for submitting the following report after taking in the Marlies’ final game of the season at the Ricoh last night:
I was (un)fortunate enough to be at the Ricoh Coliseum to watch the Marlies take on the Griffins in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
Toronto got off to a good start, as Joe Colborne hit Carter Ashton with a pass in the neutral zone and he walked over the blueline, putting a wrist shot between Petr Mrazek’s legs 4 minutes and 15 seconds into the game.
Moments later, Drew MacIntyre made two huge saves to preserve the 1 goal lead, as a Griffin player beat Morgan Rielly wide.
The Toronto Marlies look to continue their strong play of late (1st in the Western Conference) as they face-off against the slumping Hamilton Bulldogs. Toronto leads the season series 4-2 over Hamilton.
The Toronto Marlies earned three out of a possible four points this past week. On Friday night in Michigan, the Marlies fell to the Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, by a score of 3-2 in a shootout. Will Acton and Matt Frattin recorded goals for Toronto in regulation and Ben Scrivens stopped 24 of 26 shots. The Griffins managed two goals in the shootout, while Joe Colborne registered the only tally for Toronto. Saturday night marked the second half of a back-to-back between the two teams. Toronto defeated Grand Rapids by a score of 3-1 at the Van Andel arena. Ryan Hamilton had his third multi-goal game of the season and Carter Ashton added the other tally for Toronto. Jussi Rynnas made 27 saves to earn his fifth victory of the year.
Head Coach Dallas Eakins will return to the AHL AllStar game for the second time in as many seasons. He was an assistant coach for Oklahoma City’s Todd Nelson last year
The Marlies have won 10 of their last 13 games and are currently on an eight game point streak
Paul Ranger ranks seventh (tie) in AHL plus/minus (+14)
Captain Ryan Hamilton ranks eighth (tie) in AHL goals (14). Hamilton has nine goals in his last 11 games
Keith Aucoin ranks sixth (tie) in AHL points (32) and second (tie) in AHL assists (25)
Mike Kostka ranks third in AHL powerplay assists (12)
Toronto has not lost back-to-back games since November 25
Toronto plays host to the Hamilton Bulldogs, AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, tonight at Ricoh Coliseum. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. Toronto has posted a record of 4-2-0-0 against Hamilton so far this season. Gabriel Dumont and Brendan Gallagher lead the Bulldogs in points with 18 in 31 games. On Saturday afternoon, Toronto will play host to the Rockford IceHogs, AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, at 3 p.m.
Martin St. Pierre leads the IceHogs in points with 30 in 33 games. Rockford currently ranks eighth in the Western Conference with 36 points.
In their last game of the week, the Marlies travel to Hamilton for a Tuesday night game with the Bulldogs. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. The game will mark the eighth of 12 meetings between the two teams this season.
The Toronto Marlies (18-9-1) take on the Grand Rapids Griffins (17-9-1) 7pm on TSN 1050 and AHL Live. Depending on how the Charlotte Checkers fare tonight, the Marlies could move into first place in the West with a win.
Toronto is one of—if not the hottest team in the league the last 10 games (7-1-1-1), while Detroit’s AHL club is almost equally hot (7-3-0-0).
Jussi Rynnas is expected to get the start in goal tonight. There may be some movement amongst the skaters, but firm lineups won’t be available until closer to game time.
Dylan Yeo will cycle back into active duty replacing Paul Ranger for Saturday’s game marking only the fifth game missed by the Whitby born rear guard. Nicolas Deschamps also returns after sitting out on Friday, Kenny Ryan expected to sit in his place.
EXPECTED MARLIES LINEUP
IN GOAL: #40 Jussi Rynnas
Hamilton – Aucoin – Abbott
Ashton – Colborne – Scott
D’Amigo – McKegg – Frattin
Ross – Acton – Deschamps