A haul of four points from three games met the minimum requirement for Toronto over the weekend.

It really should have been at least a point more, but it was a healthy return from a three-in-three set, especially given the travel involved and the Marlies‘ wretched road record.

Although they’re still sixth in the North Division ahead of only Rochester, Toronto is still within striking distance of the Utica Comets with a little less than half of the season remaining.

Special teams proved crucial in the two victories — the Marlies scored on 50% of their ten powerplay opportunities while the penalty kill conceded just once on ten times shorthanded.

It proved a weekend of milestones and personal firsts for Marlies young and old, beginning with the game on Friday night.

Toronto Marlies 7 vs. Hartford Wolf Pack 4

Buoyed by a red-hot powerplay, the Marlies found their shooting boots against the 30th-ranked team. A pair of goals from Andrew Nielsen put the Marlies up 2-0 less than nine minutes into the game, including an opening powerplay marker.

After Hartford halved the 2-0 lead before the end of the first period, a six-goal second period began with a bang — Andreas Johnsson and Trevor Moore scored two goals inside the opening two minutes as Toronto extended their advantage to 4-1.

The Wolf Pack answered with two quick goals themselves, the second of which came shorthanded, to pull within one. Straight off of a faceoff on the same powerplay the Marlies conceded on earlier, Brett Findlay scored his first of the season.

After five goals in seven minutes, a sixth followed later on in the middle frame. Findlay found the net for a second time after good work from Kerby Rychel before he completed the hat-trick just 2:20 into the third period to put the game out of reach.

Bridgeport Sound Tigers 4 vs. Toronto Marlies 3

Despite an impressive comeback to tie the game after trailing 3-0, the Toronto fell to another frustrating one-goal defeat.

The Marlies found themselves down early after allowing two goals in 69 seconds, with Bridgeport hitting the post in between times. Toronto finally showed some promise during the final five minutes of the opening period, but they found themselves down 3-0 early in the middle frame after a bad turnover in their own zone.

The turning point came at the midway point of the game when Toronto broke through on the powerplay. Andreas Johnsson was alert to a broken play to jam home from in-tight before the Marlies drew within one five minutes later on Travis Dermott’s first professional goal.

It was a brand new game less than two minutes into the third period thanks to Brett Findlay’s fourth goal of the weekend, with another assist from Rychel.

After Viktor Loov was assessed a double minor for an altercation with Steve Bernier following a questionable hit on Andreas Johnsson, Toronto’s penalty kill couldn’t hold Bridgeport at bay for the fifth time.  Bracken Kearns finished off a rebound on the powerplay for what stood up as the game-winning goal.

Toronto Marlies 2 vs. Springfield Thunderbirds 1

This was far from a classic between two teams playing their third game in as many days, but the Marlies put on a resilient performance to close out the weekend on a high note.

The Thunderbirds were the far better side in the opening 20 minutes, outshooting Toronto 13-6 and grabbing the first goal of the game late on in the proceedings after a terrific shot from Kyle Rau beat Garret Sparks off of the inside of the post.

The Marlies’ best player in the first period, Sparks was called into action three times in the first 70 seconds of the middle frame as he continued to hold the Marlies in the game.

Five minutes into the second, some good work from Andrew Campbell kept the puck in the offensive zone before Trevor Moore set up Marc-Andre Cliché in the blue paint to tie the game at 1-1.

A powerplay in the last five minutes of the second period proved to be the turning point of the game — Rau was denied by Sparks on a shorthanded breakaway before Toronto turned back up the ice and Byron Froese put home a rebound after a strong net drive by Kerby Rychel.

Up 2-1 with 20 minutes to play, disaster struck 30 seconds into the final frame when Brendan Leipsic was rocked by a huge hit from Rau right by the Marlies bench. The Marlies’ leading point scorer struggled to gain his feet and did not return to the game after heading to the dressing room.

It was now a question of whether a tired Marlies team could cope with one less body and grind out a victory. A handful of good saves from Sparks and a gritty, determined performance from the team as a whole secured a rare one-goal victory for the Marlies.

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Kerby Rychel recorded seven assists, lifting himself to fourth in Marlies scoring.

Brett Findlay netted his first goals of the season for Toronto in the form of his first ever professional hat-trick. He finished the weekend with four goals in total as his line alongside Rychel and Eric Faille clicked immediately.

Andreas Johnsson netted twice, taking his goals tally to double figures, becoming just the fourth Marlies player to hit the 10-goal mark this season.

– A three-point weekend for Andrew Nielsen included his 20th assist. He remains second in rookie defenseman scoring and eighth overall among AHL blue liners.

Byron Froese also enjoyed a three-point weekend. A pair of goals takes his season tally to 16, just two shy of his 2014-15 haul.

Trevor Moore has managed to generate some offense playing alongside Tony Cameranesi, helping himself to a goal and two assists, including his first multi-point professional game in the victory over Hartford.

– Reassigned from the Leafs to the Marlies after getting claimed again off of waivers, Seth Griffith made his debut Saturday night. He found some instant chemistry with Byron Froese and Brendan Leipsic. Considering the amount of travel incurred and the fact that he was jumping into a new team, a pair of assists was a good haul. There’s likely better to come as he acclimates; this is a player who has dominated the AHL in his short career.

Travis Dermott has waited a long time for his first professional goal and it certainly wasn’t a classic by his own admission. He was excellent this weekend, showing composure beyond his years, particularly during the final minutes of Sunday’s victory. It’s taken a while, but he’s back to the form he showed pre-injury.

Garret Sparks won both of his starts, taking his record to 7-5-0-2. He was excellent during Sunday’s win over Springfield, stopping 32 shots. His overall save percentage now sits at .928.

Andrew Campbell and Justin Holl were paired together this weekend and both hit personal milestones. Campbell played his 600th professional game Friday night, while Sunday’s game was Holl’s 100th in the AHL.

Willie Corrin was added to the roster from Brampton (ECHL) for the weekend and made his first appearance on Sunday. It was a solid performance from a defenseman who has toiled on the fringe this season. He did no harm to his chances of another appearance.

– Daniel Maggio, Ty Stanton and Shane Conacher have been reassigned to Orlando, while defenseman Nikolas Brouillard has been recalled for the first time this season.

– Milan Michalek made just one appearance in Friday’s game, while absent throughout the weekend was defenceman Rinat Valiev. Valiev hasn’t featured since January 11.

Brendan Leipsic’s lone helper over the weekend was his 100th AHL career assist. An injury sustained on Sunday is a crushing blow to the Marlies, who are already without leading goal scorer Kasperi Kapanen. There has been no update regarding his status at the time of writing.

Toronto Marlies Player Stats – January 25

Brendan Leipsic34112738-324419811.2
Kasperi Kapanen33161733-314909716.5
Andrew Nielsen4082028-43540859.4
Kerby Rychel3881826-155460958.4
Byron Froese3717825414619418.1
Colin Smith3861319-41600817.4
Andreas Johnsson409918228607911.4
Colin Greening37681412311619.8
Tobias Lindberg35591453220568.9
Travis Dermott27191021000362.8
Trevor Moore24459312002020
Rinat Valiev3427917011573.5
Andrew Campbell4008863400490
Dmytro Timashov33437-32400695.8
Brooks Laich1615651000147.1
Richard Clune2115615700128.3
Justin Holl38156-72000611.6
Milan Michalek16235-12000258
Viktor Loov3514503500352.9
Brett Findlay9404-44101330.8
Tony Cameranesi931430002213.6
Frederik GauthierÊ(X)1713461200195.3
Nikita SoshnikovÊ(X)61231610119.1
Frank CorradoÊ(X)70332600170
Daniel MaggioÊ(X)41121900520
Marc-Andre Cliche14112-3600166.3
William Wrenn181124800175.9
Seth Griffith2022000040
Eric Faille3022-100020
Willie Corrin1000000000
Ty StantonÊ(X)3000100010
Josh LeivoÊ(X)50001600110
Mason MarchmentÊ(X)6000-340070