The Abbotsford Heat (13-4-3-2), the top team in the AHL, came into town to face off with one of the hottest teams in the AHL, the Toronto Marlies (13-8-0-1). The Marlies played and won their last game less than 24hrs ago against the Rochester Americans and entered this game on the strength of a four-game winning streak and great play at home (7-1-0-1).
The Marlies started off the game strong and had a strong edge in possession, but consecutive powerplays (Dylan Yeo @ 7:24 for cross-checking, Mark Fraser @ 12:19 for boarding) for the Abbotsford Heat started to swing momentum back their way; the Marlies were playing on their heels towards the end of the 1st period. The period ended with the Marlies being outshot 10-4 and outplayed in the latter-half of the period, despite having a powerplay of their own (Adam Estoclet, Holding, 15:14). Abbotsford Heat top-point producer, Ben Street, had 5 shots on goal in the first and was a force.
The 2nd period started poorly for the Marlies as the Heat kept the momentum going and started to wear down a tired Marlies team below the goal line with a fast-paced cycle by the smaller Heat forwards. After generating a clear edge in scoring opportunities throughout the 2nd, Max Reinhart opened the scoring at the 3:00 mark of the 2nd.
Subsequent minors were assessed to Paul Ranger (Roughing) and former Maple Leafs prospect Tyler Ruegsegger (Holding) at the 8:22 mark. In the ensuing 4-on-4 play, Kadri started off a nice rush and tried to dangle two players just over the blue line before getting stripped of the puck and falling over. The Heat came back and Ben Street scored his 6th goal and team leading 18th point at the 9:16 mark on the broken play caused by Kadri’s overhandling of the puck. Plays like this will frustrate a coach to no end and these are the sort of high-risk (and high-reward) plays that put Kadri either on the highlight reels and or in the coaches’ bad books.
Another powerplay for Toronto at the 13:19 mark came and went with no end product. While the Marlies have a deep team, they desperately missed Jake Gardiner quarterbacking their powerplay with his skating, vision, shot and hands. If the NHL resumes, this will be something the Marlies will have to address. The Marlies were 0-3 on the powerplay tonight.
The third period saw the Marlies storm back with two even strength goals. The first from Greg McKegg, at the 4:15 mark, with a great shot to beat Brust top-shelf, right-side off the left-wing.
That goal sparked the Marlies and the momentum shifted with another couple of strong shifts from McKegg, one that nearly resulted in a goal off a cycle down low that he fed in front.
Brad Ross’ play grew as the game went along, getting more opportunities playing alongside Matt Frattin and Nazem Kadri. At the 13:00 mark, Zigomanis won the offensive zone draw back to Kostka, who fired one from the point which Brad Ross was able to tip while generating a great screen in front of Brust.
The Marlies started to pour on the pressure as the game wore on but all was lost when, off of a bad clearing attempt by Dylan Yeo – who tried an ill-advised inlet clearing attempt and was hit hard, turning the puck over – Roman Horak tee’d up a shot that beat Ben Scivens up high.
The Marlies’ next game is December 15th against the Rochester Americans.
Some post game audio picked up from the Marlies dressing room (apologies if it’s tough to make out at points):
Dallas Eakins Post Game
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Greg McKegg Post Game
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Brad Ross Post Game
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