“I thought our response in the third period [after conceding leads in the second period] was very nice. You have got to give a lot of credit to Luke Cavallin [for his performance] throughout the whole game and keeping us in it.”

– Logan Shaw

The Marlies didn’t produce a performance rivaling their dominant showing on Friday night (at least in the second and third periods) in terms of possession and the number of quality scoring chances generated. But in neutralizing turnovers and cleaning it up defensively, the Marlies weren’t ruing Rochester’s opportunism in this game.

First Period

The Marlies were marginally second-best in the opening 20 minutes and would have been the happier team with the 0-0 scoreline.

The best chances for both teams arrived with Toronto players in the penalty box. During 5-on-4 action, Kyle Clifford and Logan Shaw created a 2v0 break. Reading Clifford’s pass, Dustin Tokarski cheated to his right and easily turned aside Shaw’s less-than-perfect finishing attempt.

With Toronto down to three skaters for 31 seconds, Rochester came within millimeters of opening the scoring. Isak Rosen clanked a shot off the post, and Toronto was able to kill off both penalties.

There were later chances for Roni Hirvonen and Damien Giroux in an otherwise drama-free opening period.

Second Period

Toronto stepped on the gas and built themselves a 2-0 lead inside the opening five minutes of the middle frame. 

Nick Abruzzese was rewarded for shooting a puck he might have passed many times this season. His effort snuck through Tokarski’s equipment and trickled across the goal line.

A mistake by Dylan Gambrell almost allowed Rochester to strike back immediately, but Luke Cavallin produced his best save of the game until this point to deny Jiri Kulich.

Kieffer Bellows was turned aside on a breakaway attempt, but it mattered not after Toronto capitalized on their first power play. Gambrell finished off a well-orchestrated tic-tac-toe play from the slot.

Within seconds of the restart of play, all hell broke loose around the Toronto net, with the Marlies sick of Rochester’s antics after every whistle, particularly around Cavallin’s crease.

The skirmishes and fight seemed to motivate Rochester, who earned a power play thanks to some ill-discipline by Clifford. Cavallin pulled off a tremendous right-pad save to deny the Amerks a power-play goal, but it proved a short reprieve.

After returning to full strength, the Marlies were hemmed inside their defensive zone. Ryan Johnson stepped in from the blue line and fired a shot that was tipped home by Brandon Biro.

The momentum shifted after the Marlies conceded, and a tying goal was no surprise when it arrived. After several missed chances to clear the defensive zone, Toronto was made to pay by Viktor Neuchev.

The Marlies should have taken a lead into the second intermission after scoring with 76 seconds remaining. Shaw found the net with a shot from the top of the circles much to the annoyance of Tokarski. The plea of the Amerks netminder fell on deaf ears with the officials, and the replay revealed why. A Rochester player forced Bellows into contact with the netminder as the shot was taken.

The 3-2 lead lasted all of 19 seconds. Toronto gave up an odd-man rush, and Mason Jobst was left with a tap-in to tie the game. 

Third Period

After Toronto struck early in the third period, they never looked back this time. Rochester was made to pay for a defensive mistake as Bellows delivered a deft backhand finish on a feed from Shaw.

Cavallin shut the door with a handful of decent saves that kept the lead intact before Toronto secured the victory.

Marshall Rifai — who owns a shot he should use more often — ripped a booming one-timer from the top of the right circle, redirected in front by Bellows for his second goal of the game.

Toronto was never in danger of forfeiting their lead and padded the scoreline with a pair of empty-net goals. Joseph Blandisi and Mikko Kokkonen rounded out the scoring as the Marlies got back to winning ways.

Post Game Notes

Joseph Blandisi registered his 50th point of the season in his 56th game with an empty-net goal.

– A couple of milestones for Kieffer Bellows in this game: He scored twice to take his season goal tally to 25, and he also hit the 20-assist mark with a pair of helpers in a four-point outing, the first of his professional career.

– With the top line clicking, Logan Shaw and Nick Abruzzese helped themselves to three-point hauls (1G/2A).

– It was a 30-save win for Luke Cavallin, who has stepped up to the mark and earned more trust from the coaching staff. The way things currently stand, he’s ousted Keith Petruzzelli as the number two goaltender down the stretch.

– Saturday’s lineup vs. Rochester:

Bellows – Shaw – Abruzzese
Steeves – Blandisi – Ellis
Hirvonen – Gambrell – Tverberg
Clifford – Slavin – Solow

Lajoie – Kokkonen
Pietroniro – Rifai
Gaunce – Villeneuve


Game Highlights: Marlies 7 vs. Americans 3