The final game of the regular season was one to forget for the Toronto Marlies.
Sheldon Keefe made the decision to rest the majority of his first-choice players, leaving just four regulars in the Toronto Marlies‘ lineup, so the final result wasn’t all that surprising.
The opening 20 minutes were essentially a battle between Eamon McAdam and Cleveland Monsters, with the Toronto netminder coming out on top.
Kole Sherwood, Justin Scott and Ryan MacInnis were all robbed by McAdam inside the opening six minutes, and the onslaught continued despite Toronto earning the first power play of the game. There were three excellent shorthanded chances for the Monsters, but they were kept at bay by the goaltender who has played a pivotal role in Newfoundland’s success this season.
Even a dominant power play by Cleveland failed to break the deadlock as McAdam finished the period with 20 saves to his name.
The Monsters, made aware during the first intermission that they only required a single point to secure a playoff berth following Belleville’s defeat in regulation, promptly scored with their first shot of the middle frame just 20 seconds in when Zac Dalpe expertly redirected an attempt by Doyle Somerby to finally break the resolve of McAdam.
Very much against the run of play up to that point, Toronto then generated their best chance of the game as Erik Brown was sent clear on a breakaway, but Brad Thiessen turned aside the rookie’s five-hole effort.
A successful penalty kill for the Marlies was then followed by a tying goal at the nine-minute mark, when a face-off win in the offensive zone by Hudson Elynuik allowed Griffen Molino to send the puck back to Eemeli Rasanen at the right point. The towering defenseman released a quick shot that that was skillfully tipped in front by Elynuik.
Toronto merely poked the bear with that goal as Cleveland retook the lead 45 seconds later. Mark Letestu, left unattended all alone just above the blue paint, had the easy task of finishing off a pass from Dan DeSalvo.
The Monsters promptly extended their advantage two minutes later after a lackadaisical piece of play from Kristian Rubins handed possession to Somerby, who wired a shot into the far top corner of McAdam’s net to make it a 3-1 game through 40 minutes.
The win and playoff berth was never in doubt for the Monsters, who could have racked up a wider margin of victory had they not taken their foot off the gas.
Toronto gift-wrapped the visitors a pair of third-period goals with giveaways by Joseph Duszak and Rubins leading directly to Justin Scott and Derek Barach, respectively, scoring past an undoubtedly frustrated Eamon McAdam.
A 5-1 final was nothing less than Cleveland deserved, but Toronto are now fully focused on their matchup against the Rochester Americans in the first round of the playoffs as they aim to defend their Calder Cup Championship.
Post Game Notes
– Toronto ended their regular season campaign with a 39-24-13 record. They finished third in the North Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference with 91 points.
– Hudson Elynuik scored his first AHL goal and point.
– Eemeli Rasanen’s assist on the lone goal was also his first AHL point.
– Eamon McAdam’s statistics took another pummelling in this defeat but he deserved far better after being left hung out to dry on far by a make-shift lineup. He posted 36 saves and finished the season with a 9-5-4 record.
– Sheldon Keefe liked the effort of college signing Joseph Duszak: “I thought he had some shining moments, especially in that second period where got skating and made some plays and did some real good things offensively. Those are the kinds of things you’re looking to take out of the game today.”
– Sunday’s lines: