An offensively-opportunistic Toronto Marlies team had this game against the Stockton Heat dead and buried after just 25 minutes.
“We were very fortunate to be up the way we were,” said Greg Moore. “The group knows they didn’t come out and play the way they needed to play. It is a tough to win to enjoy when the process and how we want to play was not good.”
Looking to avenge a 7-1 humbling on Sunday, Stockton came out of the blocks quickly and should have scored inside two minutes. Matthews Phillips wired a shot from the high-slot wide of the target following a misplay by Teemu Kivihalme, promptly followed by Andrea D’Aogstini coming up with a good save to deny Luke Philp alone in front on a tip play.
Toronto made the Heat pay for the early missed opportunities as Rich Clune finished off a rebound from Calle Rosen’s shot from the point. A second goal then arrived with 7:26 on the clock when Toronto initiated a 2-on-2 break, with Adam Brooks dishing off to Joey Anderson, whose quick release found the top shelf past Garret Sparks.
The Marlies were still reliant on D’Agostini to come up with huge saves at this point in the game, which he did on two occasions before Toronto found a third goal: Martin Pospisil’s strong net drive off the wall was stopped by the Marlies netminder before Philp hit the crossbar on the same shift where D’Agositni shut him down just prior.
Adam Brooks took a hit to make a play in the defensive zone before Joseph Duszak took possession at the blue line and found Kenny Agostino flying down the left-wing. With cover behind him, Duszak surged up ice and Agostino found him with a perfect return pass that Duszak deftly finished off to make it 3-0.
Toronto made it 4-0 inside five minutes of the middle frame — Mac Hollowell switched the play from the right point to Kivihalme on his left, where the Finnish defenseman found Scott Pooley down low. It didn’t look like a dangerous situation for the Heat, but Pooley’s first-time, no-look backhand pass across the slot perfectly found Tyler Gaudet, who made no mistake.
Toronto took their foot off the gas from that point on as D’Agostini needed to be sharp in turning aside 14 shots. His best save of the period shut down Justin Kirkland on a breakaway, preserving the Marlies‘ 4-0 lead through 40 minutes of play.
Toronto somewhat let their goaltender down early in the final frame, ending his bid at a first career AHL shutout. A failure to clear the zone on three occasions eventually resulted in Stockton creating space for Alex Gallant to shoot uncontested. The left-winger’s shot into the far top corner gave D’Agostini no chance.
Scott Pooley, unfortunate not to score in this game, was cursing his luck on a breakaway attempt as his shot rang off the post with Garret Sparks cleanly beaten.
A power play for Stockton with 10 minutes remaining was their last chance to even ponder a comeback, but they never looked likely to break down Toronto’s defense for a second time. Instead, it was a second goal for Joey Anderson that rounded off the scoring as he finished off a rebound from a Kristians Rubins shot.
Post Game Notes
– Andrew D’Agostini posed 30 saves for the victory and is fast becoming the story of the season for the Toronto Marlies. He owns a 4-2-0 record and a .933 save percentage, having given up just 11 goals.
“He is having a lot of fun and has a big smile on his face,” said Moore. “He has been our most consistent competitor in these games. The score could’ve easily been flipped in the opposite direction. D’Agostini again gave us a heck of a chance to win a hockey game.”
– A pair of goals for Joey Anderson confirmed for me that I would like to see him become more of a shoot-first player. He has three goals on 15 shots this season.
“He is gaining traction right now and getting comfortable with the season,” said Moore. “He is a really good person who comes every day, works hard, has a great process, stays positive all the time, and is a great teammate. It is the consistency in his details and development process — the willingness to get better and play a team game — that puts him in a position to succeed. There is a lot of chemistry with Adam Brooks on that line. They are becoming close friends off the ice as well. The line played well. Joey is feeling it right now.”
– Two assists for Kenny Agostino extends his point streak (2-5-7) to five games. Adam Brooks also recorded two assists and now has six points (2-4-6) in as many games.
– Joseph Duszak recorded a goal and an assist to move him up to five points (1-4-5) in six games.
– Tyler Gaudet netted his fourth goal in six games, already equalling his tally from 58 games last season. With seven points (4-3-7), he’s tied for the team lead in scoring with Kenny Agostino.
– Tuesday’s lines: