For 50 minutes, this was a mundane Sunday matinee game.

The Phantoms were playing their third game in as many days, while the Marlies were playing their second in under 24 hours. Sloppy mistakes and a lack of scoring chances were the most prominent features of the contest before all hell broke loose in the third period.

First Period

The Marlies played like the more lethargic team through the opening minutes, failing to register a shot on goal and having to kill two penalties to keep Lehigh off the scoreboard.

Against the run of five-on-five play, the Marlies then scored the opening goal on their own power play. After Joseph Duszak’s shot from the left point was redirected by Joey Anderson in front, Garrett Metcalf made the first save but could do nothing about Anderson finishing off his own rebound.

Toronto gave up their lead quickly after a turnover by Curtis Douglas allowed Lehigh to sustain a spell of pressure straight off of the restart of play. From below the goal line, Brennan Saulnier banked the puck off Erik Källgren and in just 42 seconds after the opening goal.

The Marlies regained the lead late in the period thanks to a moment of magic from Antti Suomela at the backboards. The Finnish forward delivered a no-look, between-the-legs pass out to Anderson, who lifted a one-time shot past Metcalf from the slot.

Second Period

Lehigh tied the game for a second time just 72 seconds into the middle frame after Joseph Duszak’s errant pass in the defensive zone landed on the stick of Cal O’Reilly, who found Wade Allison alone in front.

The second period was short on quality play, with neither team generating many scoring chances. As the physicality ramped up, so did the tempers on both teams, including a spirited scrap between Brennan Saulnier and Richard Clune at the eight-minute mark. Despite Clune clearly winning the fight on points, Saulnier gestured to the crowd on his way to the box.

The Marlies generated one dominant shift of note with six minutes remaining. The trio of Mikhail Abramov, Alex Steeves, and Josh Ho-Sang ran circles around the Phantoms, but they couldn’t turn it into a goal, only two blocked shots and a couple of saves by Metcalf.

Wyatte Wylie threatened to score a go-ahead tally for the Phantoms, but Kristians Rubins took an interference penalty in the process of negating the scoring opportunity.

Third Period

Toronto killed the penalty that carried over into the final frame before the game returned to its meandering state at five-on-five. Neither team generated a high-danger scoring chance, with only a couple of shots from Anderson and Suomela testing Metcalf in the Lehigh net.

The game took on a different feel and complexion with eight minutes remaining when Ho-Sang crossed the Phantoms blue line with speed directly down the middle of the ice and dished the puck off to his right. Two seconds after the puck left his stick, Ho-Sang’s head met the right elbow of Adam Clendening, who lined him up and delivered a calculated headshot.

There wasn’t a penalty on the play or a response from any Marlies’ player, leading me to think — and this is no excuse — that the speed at which it happened caught everyone off-guard. The injury spelled the end of Ho-Sang’s evening.

Less than two minutes after the incident, Lehigh took the lead for the first time in the game. The Marlies weren’t happy about how it was officiated, but some of it was their own fault — they twice turned the puck over, allowing Lehigh to sustain pressure in the offensive zone.

Alex Kile delivered a late hit on Mac Hollowell — which could easily have been called interference — taking the defenseman out of the play as he drove into the slot unmarked to score his first goal of the year on a pass from Isaac Ratcliffe.

With the winning streak now in jeopardy, Toronto was in need of a spark. One arrived with two minutes remaining.

A shot by Carl Dahlstrom bounced off the end boards and out to the right flank, where Brett Seney took possession and drove down below the goal line. Under pressure from Linus Hogberg and with no obvious passing option available, Seney spun his way out of danger, looped back to the top of the right circle, and created a shooting lane. With six players now in front of him providing traffic in front of Metalf, Seney delivered a perfectly-placed shot into the far top corner of the net to tie the game at 3-3.

Long-range efforts from Duszak and Filip Král in the final seconds almost won the game in regulation, but overtime was needed to decide the extra point.

The final action of the third period featured an altercation between Ryan Chyzowski and Maksim Sushko. It appeared as if the Chyzowski said something that enraged Sushko, who responded with a front-on crosscheck. The officials deemed it roughing, giving Toronto a 4-on-3 power play to start overtime.


The Marlies recorded just one shot on target in the overtime frame, and it was the game-winning goal. After looking for the perfect play on the man advantage, it was an odd deflection that decided the game.

Steeves sent a shot wide of the target before the puck ricocheted off the end boards, struck the leg of Egor Zamula, and laid dead in the slot, where Anderson pounced first to send a backhand shot past Metcalf.

The drama wasn’t over with the winning goal. Before the teams left the ice, Saulnier delivered a crosscheck to Duszak, instigating a commotion that Källgren may have gotten involved in if Clune didn’t beat him to the punch (pun intended). Tensions were running high, and there may be suspensions to come once the AHL has reviewed all of the footage.

Post Game Notes

– This was the fifth time this season the Marlies won in overtime, a category in which they lead the league at 5-1 (they’re 1-1 in the shootout).

– With the winning streak now extended to six games, Toronto has made up significant ground on those above them. They sit in third place in the North Division, four points back of Rochester with three games in hand. The power play was an area of concern at the beginning of the season, but it’s now climbed up to 19.4% after converting twice in this game.

Joey Anderson has never pouted when sent back to the AHL this season. This was his second hat-trick of the season and 13th goal in 22 games. It’s also the second time in the first half of the season that he has responded to a demotion to the AHL with a three-goal performance.

– Also returning to the AHL, Brett Seney turned in another dominant performance. This was his third three-point haul of the season, giving him the team scoring lead with 25 points in 24 games.

“With [Seney and Anderson’s] energy and take-charge mentality to push and drive the team offensively, they led by example on the ice,” said Greg Moore. “With the goals that Anderson scored and Seney coming up big, it added a lot to our game today. Can’t say enough about the way they conduct themselves and how they lead this group.”

– After missing out on the first game of the weekend, Joseph Duszak added two assists to his total, bringing him up to 22 in 20 games. He wasn’t at his best defensively, but he did provide a spark offensively in a game that was mostly bereft of quality scoring chances.

Filip Král extended his points streak to five games (2-5-7) thanks to an assist. The other good news for the rookie defenseman is that he has been selected as the AHL Player of the Week for the week ending January 16 thanks to his two goals and four assists in four games.

Hayden Hawkey was signed to a PTO while Joseph Woll was assessed after leaving Saturday’s game. According to AHL transactions, Hawkey has been released, which could mean Woll is okay to return, or that another transaction is coming.

Kristians Rubins did not play in the third period and is considered day-to-day according to Greg Moore. When asked about Josh Ho-Sang, Moore said, “He looks like he’s doing okay,” but he will need to be evaluated.

– Sunday’s lines:

Suomela – Seney – Anderson
Steeves – Abramov – Ho-Sang
Kopacka – Blandisi – Gogolev
Clune – Douglas – Chyzowski

Král – Dahlström
Rubins – Duszak
Krys – Hollowell


Greg Moore Post Game: Marlies 4 vs. Phantoms 3 (OT)

Game Highlights: Marlies 4 vs. Phantoms 3 (OT)