A pregame celebration of the recently-retired Rich Clune took place prior to this matchup against Cleveland on Saturday.

Clune spent seven seasons with the Toronto Marlies, two of those as the team’s captain. His influence within the Marlies and the organization went beyond his performances on the ice. A strong work ethic, a willingness to set aside time for teammates (including new additions), and always going above and beyond the call of duty left a lasting impression on all of those who shared a dressing room with him. That was born out in the pre-game video tribute in which many players paid their personal tribute to the man known as Dicky.

As for the action on the ice, this was another frustrating loss for the Marlies. It is too simplistic to say they were ‘goalie’d’ by Jet Greaves, but they wasted too many scoring opportunities and made life a little too easy at times for the Columbus prospect.

“In the second intermission, we showed some clips and talked about getting to the goalie’s eyes a little bit,” said Greg Moore. “We were getting to the net but not necessarily on the goalie or taking his eyes away. We were off to the side, getting boxed out, not getting across, or not timing ourselves across his line of vision as the puck was being released. It’s something we’re going to work on [in practice].”

Meanwhile, Cleveland won the special teams battle and was opportunistic offensively in their 5-1 victory.

First Period

After both teams traveled overnight following Friday night’s game, it was unsurprisingly a low-event and slow start to this matinee rematch.

The breakthrough occurred on the man advantage. Semyon Der-Arguchintsev delivered the puck into the wheelhouse of Logan Shaw, whose one-time shot nestled into the roof of the Cleveland net.

The Marlies held the upper hand possession-wise until the final three minutes of the period, but they failed to turn it into scoring chances of note.

Cleveland tied the game with a power-play tally of their own. Joona Luoto skated toward the net unchallenged through the left circle and delivered a five-hole finish past Keith Petruzzelli.

The Marlies finished the period in a lackadaisical fashion, and Cleveland was yet again clinical offensively. After a needless icing was followed by a lost battle behind Toronto’s net, it was far too easy for Kirill Marchenko to find Emil Bemstrom in front to make it 2-1.

The Marlies almost found a tying goal with 10 seconds remaining when Ryan Chyzowski’s shot snuck through Jet Greaves, but Tim Berni was on hand to clear the puck off the goal line.

Second Period

There were no goals in the middle frame despite a combined 34 recorded shots and plenty of excellent scoring chances. Petruzzelli came up with some key saves to deny Owen Sillinger, Robbie Payne, Marchenko, and Bemstrom.

Meanwhile, a combination of poor finishing, two poor power-play efforts, and solid play from Greaves kept Toronto off the board.

Shaw will feel he should have completed a hat trick in the period. Denied by a right-pad save on a breakaway, he also provided two weak finishing attempts from the slot on separate opportunities.

Of the numerous other scoring chances for Toronto, one that stood out was for Alex Steeves. He scooped the puck into the glove hand of Greaves from close range when a finish into the roof of the net would have been a guaranteed goal.

The Cleveland netminder turned aside 21 shots in all but Toronto was guilty of allowing the goaltender to get in a groove. Neither providing a screen nor crashing the crease, life was a little too comfortable for a goaltender who has given up four goals per game on average this season.

Third Period

The Marlies created one high-danger scoring chance to tie the game at 2-2 after Max Ellis led the rush and found Axel Rindell with a perfectly-weighted pass. Greaves was scrambling across the crease and all Rindell had to do was place the puck into the opposite side of the net, but the defenseman’s effort missed the far post, perfectly summing up Toronto’s evening around the goal.

Cleveland showed the Marlies how it’s done at the other end by securing the victory with a pair of goals that killed the game as a contest with 10 minutes remaining. Cole Fonstad scored on the power play and Justin Richards finished on a nice move around Petruzzelli after Toronto pushed offensively and allowed an odd-man rush against.

With a little under six minutes to play, Petruzzelli was pulled for the extra attacker and Marlies did at least draw a penalty, but it took only 12 seconds for the Monsters to record a shorthanded empty-net goal to further pad their lead.

A final scoreline of 5-1 is a harsh reflection on the Marlies, but they were taught the lesson of what happens when a team fails to capitalize on its chances.

Post Game Notes

– The Marlies have won just two of their last six games and finished November with an overall record of 11-6-1. They continue to sit atop the North Division, but their previously comfortable lead has been whittled down to a single point.

– Cleveland netted on both their power-play opportunities in this game, which was ultimately the difference between the teams. Toronto’s penalty kill began the year poorly but had been improving until the last four games. They now have allowed seven goals on their last 11 times shorthanded.

– 16 of 18 skaters recorded at least one shot for the Marlies. Only Marc Johnstone and Adam Gaudette (who left the game in the first period) didn’t test Jet Greaves. Logan Shaw and Semyon Der-Arguchintsev led the way with seven and six shots on net, respectively.

– The Marlies’ offensive issues weren’t helped by the absence of Adam Gaudette, who appeared to sustain an injury in the first period and did not return to the game. Kyle Clifford did not dress as he remains in concussion protocol.

– Saturday’s lines:

Abruzzese – Shaw – Anderson
Steeves – Der-Arguchintsev – Gaudette
Blandisi – Abramov – Ellis
Chyzowski – Slaggert – Johnstone

Rifai – Miller
Pietroniro – Villeneuve
Hoefenmayer – Rindell


Game Highlights: Monsters 5 vs. Marlies 1

Post-Game Media Availability: Greg Moore