“There’s no need here to hit the panic button for us. We are a really young team, and we are learning through a lot of different things. This was one of those steps, and for sure later in the season when you go through those adverse moments, it hardens you as a team and makes you come together as a group.”
That was one of the more curious post-game quotes from the Marlies head coach Greg Moore.
The average age of the Marlies‘ line-up was 24.8, and arguably the younger players on the roster have been their best performers. At 22 years of age, Filip Kral has been outstanding on the blue line, so harping on about a young team needing experience feels a little contrived.
For further context, as per Elite Prospects, Laval’s current roster has an almost identical average age to Toronto’s.
It is becoming difficult not to repeat myself writing game recaps during Greg Moore’s tenure as head coach of the Toronto Marlies. This was yet another abject performance; at no stage were the Marlies competitive.
Laval made quick work of the visiting Marlies, netting three times inside seven minutes to put the contest all but to bed.
The Rocket swarmed the Marlies’ net and Michael Pezzetta swooped in on a rebound opportunity after just 109 seconds played. Alex Biega’s night then finished early after being called for an intentional check to the head with 3:43 on the clock, resulting in a five-minute power play that Laval took full advantage of. Louie Belpedio was left alone in the slot and made no mistake with an emphatic finish.
Two quickly became three for the Rocket after Kirill Semyonov’s penalty handed them a two-man advantage. A blocked shot fell to Laurent Dauphin, who had the simple task of placing the puck into the empty net with Joseph Woll left high and dry.
No blame could be placed on Woll, who made several excellent saves (15 in all) to ensure the deficit was only three after 20 minutes. Toronto recorded just five shots on goal despite finishing the period on the power play.
After the Marlies power play failed to fire on the PP early in the middle frame, it wasn’t long before they fell further behind. A misplay from Brennan Menell in the slot turned over possession to Dauphin, and Woll couldn’t do anything about the Laval forward scoring his second of the evening.
It was a case of when — not if — Laval would add to their lead, and the next goal arrived in the final five minutes of the period.
Gianni Fairbrother’s shot rebounded off the backboards directly to Jean-Sebastien Dea for an easy tap-in at the side of the net. That was the end of the road for Woll as Erik Källgren entered the game in relief.
The final frame turned into a parade to the penalty box as the officials dolled out 28 total penalties, the majority of which were called inside the final three minutes following a line brawl. It was a throwback to the old days of the American League and served to delay the final buzzer.
Outside of the penalties, Cayden Primeau made one save of note on Josh Ho-Sang in the slot to preserve his shutout. Källgren made several excellent stops to give him some confidence after a rocky last start.
Toronto mustered 11 shots on goal through the final frame, more than doubling their tally through the previous 40 minutes. In truth, they never looked likely to score in a punchless performance.
Post Game Notes
– Toronto finished the game with four defensemen. In addition to Biega’s ejection, Teemu Kivihalme sustained an injury to his left leg that left him prone on the ice for several minutes before he required assistance to leave the ice.
“Alex [Biega] is a really hard player to miss throughout the entirety of the hockey game,” said Greg Moore. “The five guys that were in did a good job managing their minutes and play as it came at them. There definitely wasn’t any ill-intent on Biega’s hit. He is a hard-working defenseman who always finishes his hits. The call was the call, but to start out five minutes down early and then the 5-on-3, it is a really adverse moment for our team to go through early in the game.”
– Toronto has been shut out in two of their five games this season. At the other end, the Marlies’ propensity to concede goals in bunches under Greg Moore continues. This was the third time in five games that the team has given up five-plus goals against.