It took a mere 27 seconds into overtime last night, when Mark Arcobello drilled home a one-timer to beat the Lake Erie Monsters and win the game for the Toronto Marlies. Arcobello was set up by a sweet passing play from Josh Leivo to Brendan Leipsic, and he made no mistake in finishing the game off in style by scoring his 24th goal of the season.
Not only did the Marlies win the game (this is a recording), they also managed to clinch the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy, that is awarded to the team with the best record in the AHL, for the first time in franchise history !!!
The Marlies moved to a incredible record of 51-15-5 thus far on the season, setting another new team record in victories. The impressive juggernaut that is the blue and white machine, continues to roll on despite a constant revolving door of players (4 call up rule…how adorable) that make their way between the Ricoh Coliseum and the Air Canada Center, to play for parent club the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Here is where I will take a few seconds to say, that giving the AHL Coach of the year to Rick Kowalsky (yesterday) was a complete farce. How can the media (writers who were polled) overlook what rookie AHL Coach, Sheldon Keefe has done this season with a dressing room of players that changed daily? A young guy, in his first AHL season continues to motivate, instruct and get the most out of not only players but 8 (YES EIGHT) different goalies to start games for the Marlies and do nothing but win? Who in the blue flames of H.E. double hockey sticks are these clowns watching? Rant over. Without question Keefe deserved to be the Coach of the Year in the AHL, he is in my books.
Back to the game. Another solid performance in the Marlies cage for Antoine Bibeau. Bibeau ran his record to 26-8-0 on the season by stopping 31 of 34 and looking very capable in doing so. Two of the Lake Erie goals were not on Bibeau (one being kicked into the net passed him on a rebound by a Marlies teammate) who continues to look large in the net, square to all shots and controls his rebounds as well as any goalie in the system.
Opening the scoring for the Marlies last night was none other than Connor Brown. Connor has 27 pts in the 31 games that he has played in this year (had fractured foot after a shot block) continues to show that he is capable of getting the job done and is a very integral part of the Marlies team as it heads towards the Calder Cup playoffs. Key goals are going to be required in those playoffs, and he is one guy that Coach Keefe can rely on to get that job done.
Also scoring for the Marlies were the Smiths. Ben and Colin Smith both scored for the baby Blue and White, with Colin scoring his 20th of the season which is a new career high for him.
Recent addition, Andrew Nielsen (2015 Draft, 3rd round) made his debut for the Marlies last evening. 6’3 and 212 pounds the large body kid from Red Deer, AB looked solid during his first game. Nothing fancy, but made all the right, simple plays that were required to stay out of trouble. Nielsen pinched along the wall and joined the rush on two occasions and knew immediately when to return to position when the puck didn’t filter towards him. There will not be anything fancy on the stat line in regards to Nielsen, but that is exactly what I had hoped for. Look for him to continue to gain confidence and make a contribution to this franchise moving forward.
Scary moment in the second period as Lake Erie Monsters player Brett Gallant collapsed on the team bench and had to be tended to by Paramedics and team Doctors. Gallant, a much loved tough guy on the team, was stretchered from the bench and into a waiting Ambulance that took him to an area hospital. According to team officials and Kyle Cicerella from Canadian Press, the player was conscious and talking when he was taken from the Ricoh Coliseum and all updates point to a full recovery and nothing more than a fainting spell. Both teams conferred with the on-ice officials before agreeing to continue on with the game.
The Marlies hustled to pack their bags post game as they head off to Syracuse to play the Crunch today (Saturday) in a 7pm tilt. (tsn radio 1050 has that game)
It was damn nice being back at the Ricoh Coliseum, however I was warned by security to never bring my friends back to watch a game in the arena because the team is scared to have them back, and so is Kate.
Photo Creds: Christian Bonin– TSGPhoto.com