Where to even start?
This was the fourth embarrassing loss for the Toronto Marlies just 20 games into the season. They were blown out twice by Stockton (8-1 and 5-1) and most recently 5-1 by a Belleville team that was significantly more talented than the lineup they iced for this game.
These kinds of heavy defeats have already become a fixture of Greg Moore’s tenure since he took over in late December of 2019. In the 34 games he coached before the 2019-20 season was canceled, Toronto endured 10 losses in which the margin was by three or more goals. In eight of those defeats, the Marlies conceded five or more goals.
What makes Saturday’s loss even more confounding is that the Marlies were fully in control of the game for the opening 20 minutes.
Joseph Woll only had to make three saves of note in the first period: The first came a minute in to deny Egor Solakov following a giveaway by Kalle Kossila, the second was on a shorthanded rush from Michael Peca, and the third was a good save to deny Zach Magwood on a transition play after Toronto was caught with too many players on the wrong side of the puck.
Other than those three chances, the Marlies dominated 5v5 play. They did everything but put the puck into the net before finally breaking the deadlock at the 14-minute mark.
Joseph Duszak winged a breakout pass off the left boards toward Nic Petan waiting at the blue line, where Petan’s slick between-the-legs flick pass sent Kenny Agostino in alone on Marcus Hogberg, who Agostino beat cleanly with a hard wrist shot into the top shelf.
Whether it was complacency or something else entirely, the Marlies did not turn up for the middle frame. There was little in the way of compete or work ethic, tons of missed assignments, and they generated nothing in the way of pushback as Belleville cruised out to a 4-1 lead.
At the midway point, a three-zone outlet pass by Joseph LaBate cut out every one of Toronto’s five skaters on the ice, creating a 2-on-0 ensued for Michael Peca and Solokov, who lifted the puck high past a helpless Woll.
Colby Williams really should have given the Senators the lead at the five-minute mark, but Woll got the better of his effort from the slot.
It was only a matter of time before Belleville capitalized, though, and they struck for a pair of goals inside 16 seconds at the midway point.
Parker Kelly was gifted all the time in the world to measure his shot from the left circle and beat Woll clean on one the Toronto netminder might want back. Straight off of the subsequent faceoff, more incessant pressure from Belleville led to Solokov’s second of the period.
The Belleville forward had only to hit the target from the side of the vacant cage after Woll made the initial save with traffic in front.
A fourth straight goal for the Senators arrived with 5:30 remaining. Nobody wearing blue picked up Vitaly Abramov, who pounced on a broken play in the slot to give the Sens a 4-1 lead.
Toronto briefly showed some signs of life in the third period, but any thoughts of a comeback were quickly snuffed out by a four-minute penalty kill.
Calle Rosen was unlucky on the call as Mark Kastelic appeared to lift the defenseman’s stick into his own face, drawing blood. Belleville wasted little time taking advantage of the extra man and the Marlies’ loose penalty killing.
Solokov will likely never score an easier hat-trick in his life — he finished with a one-time shot while all alone in the heart of the slot.
The sixth goal for Belleville arrived just inside the eight-minute mark. Cole Reinhardt redirected a point shot by Jonathan Aspirot past Woll, who was yanked from the net and Andrew D’Agostini entered in relief.
The teams exchanged power-play markers late in the game, with Joey Anderson and Jonathan Aspirot scoring for their respective sides, but it was all academic at that point in a comprehensive 7-2 victory for Belleville.
Post Game Notes
– Belleville now leads the season series 3-1 and has outscored Toronto 15-8 despite getting shut out in the lone Marlies win.
– Kenny Agostino extended his point streak to six games (3-6-9) with his fifth goal of the season.
– Nic Petan kept up his record of picking up at least a point (4-4-8) in every game (six) this year.
– Another point streak that remains intact is that of Semyon Der-Arguchintsev. His secondary assist on the power-play goal gives him four assists in three games.
– Saturday’s lines:
Agostino – Kossila – Petan
Robertson – Der-Arguchintsev – Anderson
Chartier – Gaudet – McKenna
Clune – Conrad – Green
Hoefenmayer – Duszak
McCourt – Rosen
Rubins – Hollowell