The Toronto Marlies opened up the 2015-16 AHL season with a convincing 5-3 win over the Manitoba Moose at the Ricoh Colisseum on Friday night.
The Marlies controlled the game from the opening face-off and used speed to establish a suffocating forecheck.
Josh Leivo led the team offensively with 3 pts (1G, 2A) with Richard Panik assisting on the first two Marlies goals of the evening.
Coach Keefe stated during the post game media scum that “we are going to put our players in tough positions. We will push them to become better”. This was evident with Connor Brown. The young Marlies winger played on the first line and saw Powerplay and Penalty Killing minutes throughout the evening.
A balanced offensive attack will be the key for the young Marlies team throughout the season, and that was reinforced on Friday evening with seven different players getting on the scoresheet. After the game, new Marlies Captain, Andrew Campbell was quoted as saying “this year we will be a four line team that all can contribute. The defensemen will also be able to provide points and any player who wasn’t dressed tonight could also step in to help out”. Campbell scored the third Marlies goal of the evening and said “I am not known as a goal scorer but it was great to be able to contribute”.
Antoine Bibeau went the distance for the Marlies stopping 21 of 24 and making timely saves when required. While not overworked or swamped with high quality shots, Bibeau will continue to get the bulk of the starts this season with Garret Sparks providing back up duties.
Frederik Gauthier, the 6’5 native of Laval Quebec, clearly stands out on the ice. Normally when we say this about a Leafs player or prospect it has negative connotations. Not for Freddy. His simple, effective play in his own end of the rink will be heavily relied on by Coach Keefe. Gauthier will never be that elite scorer that some would wish out of a first round pick but did not look out of place when they were in offensive zone of the ice either.
2014 draft pick William Nylander was a threat every time he was on the ice friday night. The moment the puck was dropped it was more than obvious that Slick Willie can standout in the AHL and will be force once he hits the NHL. The great part of being at a hockey game is to see what players do away from the puck. Nylander has an uncanny knack for knowing exactly where the puck will be end up and finds himself with an abundance of opportunities based on his anticipatory skills. Nylander led both teams with 9 shots on net in the opening game of the season and could’ve easily had 3 additional shots but they were blocked en route to the net. Coach Keefe placed Richard Clune with the Brown and Nylander line to “initiate the forecheck and create loose pucks for his linemates”. Clune did an effective job of doing exactly that and will get an extended opportunity if he continues to focus on the small details that will evolve into scoring chances.
-Matt Frattin had a first period fight immediately after eating a high elbow along the boards.
-Marlies outshot the Moose 34-24 for the game but with the exception of a few defensive breakdowns, controlled all three periods of play.
-Marlies 2-4 Powerplay, 3-3 on PK.
-Attendance: 3252 (Solid considering the Jays playoffs game and Leafs in Detroit)
Saturday, October 10th vs the Manitoba Moose
Post Game Video