Leafs Rookie Tournament: Game #1 Live Blog – Leafs vs. Blackhawks



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.

Projected Lines vs. Chicago
Starting lineup vs. Chicago  
Josh LeivoCarter VerhaegheBrad Ross
Connor BrownGreg McKegg (C)David Broll
Sam CarrickFrederik GauthierRyan Rupert
Tyler BiggsAndrew CrescenziJamie Devane
Matt FinnMorgan Rielly
Petter GranbergStuart Percy
Andrew MacWilliamKevin Raine
Garret Sparks

Live Updates:

Period #1

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.

1-0 Leafs.

Period #2

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.

2-0 Leafs.

Period #3

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.

Game in Six

  • Dangle_My_Berries


  • DJBrianBurke

    Dangle_My_Berries Can not wait!

  • Zep2

    Good afternoon all. 
    I just read the 25 under 25 article on Bernier.  What  strikes me is how easy it is too 2nd guess moves made by GMs 
    The writer has 3 main complaints . Bernier doesnt fill a need, he is too highly paid , and we shoulda used those assets to get a #1 c.  Im okay with the complaint about Bernier being overpaid but the other are just plain bitching.  Like cowbell, you can never have enough goaltending.  Having said that, its clear that the suits in general are not sold on Riemer as a # 1 and have bought insurance to cover  their bets.
    As to the #1C , this has been an ongoing issue since Sundins waning years.  Richards , Tavares, Vinny were all wished for to no avail.  There was no one available this year unless you want to throw 6 million+ at Statsny. 
    Right now our one 1C will more than likely come from the draft. Hopefully Kadri, or going out on a limb Gauthier. This kid looks more like Joe Thornton right now than Joe Colborne . I think we may have gotten the steal of the draft

  • GeorgeCastanza


  • Dangle_My_Berries

    Zep2 I hope your right about Gauthier, want big things for that kid

  • Lonsmos2

    Just gave up my Rogers cable saving $87 per month
    Negotiated my Internet with Rogers for 150gb 46mbps at $42 per month including modem rental thus saving anothe $17 per month from only 80gb 25mbps total saving $104 month
    Bought a great digital antennae ($89) get 12 channels in HD for free and have my jailbroken Apple TV ($300) to watch all movies or TV shows for free a d signed up for hockey’ streams for $106 per year for all hockey games most in HD a NHL junior world junior etc so initial total cost approx $500 or a out 6 months worth of cable plus centre ice cost
    And no blackouts and I ca. Watch what I want when I want for movies and TV shows

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    Lonsmos2 slow clap my friend, slow clap…..well done

  • Great Dane

    With Burke in Calgary would it be possible to swing a deal with the Flames again.
    I wouldn’t be surprise if Burke wanted Phaneuf back in Calgary and if Rielly and Granberg are ready then things could get interesting.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Great Dane Granberg is going to replace Phaneuf, is he?
    Both of these defencemen have no played an NHL game much less proven ready to take on those minutes. 
    I don’t think Phaneuf would have much interest in a return to Calgary. Seems happy with a new life here.
    Don’t think Calgary would see much sense in it either. They need to strap themselves in for some really bad tank years.

  • Lonsmos2

    You know I got sick on scrolling through cable channels and not seeing anything I wanted to watch
    Now you can get streams for most games on the Apple TV for free but the quality sometimes is poor do I thought springing $106 for stable feeds mostly in HD was worth it :-)