The Toronto Marlies continue to stumble toward the playoffs, producing performances not befitting a team comfortably leading their division.

All three goals for Cleveland came about as a result of sloppy mistakes as the sixth-placed Monsters grabbed a crucial two points off of Toronto.

First Period

As in the previous game, the shot clock was an unfair representation of the first period. The Marlies held a 13-8 advantage in shots, but the Monsters created five quality scoring chances to Toronto’s one.

Toronto killed off two penalties in the first nine minutes with Keith Petruzzelli pulling off one outstanding save to rob Cole Sillinger.

At five-on-five, the Marlies‘ best effort came via the combination of Ryan Tverberg and Jack Badini, but the latter was unable to find the net on two separate occasions.

Toronto spent the final three minutes of the period on the power play, including 41 seconds of a two-man advantage. Not only did the Marlies fail to score, but they also gifted Cleveland a shorthanded tally with 13 seconds remaining.

In a disjointed play, a blind pass from Max Ellis was picked off by Roman Ahcan before Joona Luoto scored after the Monsters transitioned with speed.

Second Period

A giveaway presented Cole Fonstad with a gild-edge chance at the two-minute mark, but Petruzzelli stepped up with a crucial save.

The play immediately switched back the other way, where Noel Hoefenmayer struck the post flush with a one-time effort from the right circle. Zach Solow whiffed on a bouncing puck with an open net to aim for just two minutes later before a tying goal finally arrived.

Kyle Clifford produced a textbook tip from the blue paint to register a power-play goal on a shot by Hoefenmayer.

Clifford should have given Toronto the lead shortly afterward, but he produced a weak shot from the high slot after some good work by Logan Shaw and Nick Abruzzese in the buildup.

Max Ellis found the go-ahead goal after capitalizing on a weird broken play, seizing on the loose puck and firing a low shot that deceived Daniil Tarasov because of the early release.

Toronto threw away their hard-fought advantage with another needless giveaway. William Villeneuve misplayed the puck just inside the blue line, allowing Ahcan to steal. Tyler Angle was the recipient of the latter’s centering feed and produced a deft finish behind Petruzzelli.

Cleveland’s Corson Ceulemans escaped on a breakaway almost immediately upon the restart of play, but Petruzzelli again stepped up to the plate to keep Toronto in the game.

Toronto’s netminder pulled off four more excellent saves to keep the game tied through 40 minutes.  A giveaway by Steeves in the final minute also almost proved costly, but Fonstad’s effort clanged off the crossbar.

Third Period

Alex Steeves hadn’t scored in 12 straight games, a streak that continued in this contest despite five shots on goal all from below the dots in the final frame.

Nick Abruzzese also forced Tarasov into a good glove save as the Marlies edged the better scoring chances at five-on-five.

Cleveland’s best chance to win the game arrived on the power play. Petruzelli made five saves in 56 seconds as the Monsters swarmed the Toronto net without success.

The Marlies weren’t able to exert the same pressure on a later power play of their own, sending the game to overtime.


Petruzzelli continued to excel in the extra frame.  Three more quality saves followed by a poke-check to deny a potential breakaway kept Toronto alive.

The Marlies’ lone opportunity arrived with 1:16 remaining when Alex Steeves was hauled back on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. It was a strange effort — lacking any real conviction — as Tarsov denied the five-hole attempt with ease.

13 seconds later, the game was over. Jake Christiansen escaped down the left as Toronto lost their numbers tracking back, and Trey Fix-Wolansky finished from the slot under no pressure.

Post Game Notes

– Greg Moore opted to go back to 12F/6D, and a properly-formed fourth line benefitted. Orrin Centazzo, Jack Badini, and Ryan Tverberg showed some chemistry in the first period but found their minutes limited in the remaining 40 minutes.

“I thought Tverberg did a good job in another game and is starting to feel more comfortable,” said Greg Moore. “You can tell on the ice with each rep.”

Max Eliis took his rookie season’s goal tally to 10 through 48 games.

– Despite his goalless streak extending to 13 games, Alex Steeves has contributed five assists in four games. A pair of helpers in this outing takes his assist total to 30 for the campaign and his point total to 47 in 57 games.

– Despite taking the loss, this was a strong outing for Keith Petruzzelli. He posted 31 saves in his first AHL start since March 3.

“I thought [Petruzelli] did really well,” said Moore. “He hasn’t had consistent starts with us throughout the season. It has been a tough year for him to find flow, but because of his personality and how he works at things, he is the right kind of guy to come into games like this… He made some big saves for us at key moments, and you can’t say enough about how hard he competes.”

– Friday’s lines:

Clifford – Shaw – Abruzzese
Steeves – Holmberg – Ellis
Slaggert – Johnstone – Solow
Centazzo – Badini – Tverberg

Rifai – Benn
Hoefenmayer – Miller
Pietroniro – Villeneuve


Game Highlights: Monsters 3 vs. Marlies 2 (OT)