It was a battle between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs farm teams, as the Toronto Marlies kicked off a weekend home series against the St. John’s Ice Caps.
The Marlies returned home after a six-game road trip. Their latest game was a 7-2 loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Byron Froese and Milan Michalek got the goals for the Marlies.
It was a game that they would like to forget. And they hoped that returning to home ice would help them out.
Saturday, November 19th, 2016:
A two- goal second period from the St. John’s Ice Caps proved to be the difference maker as they downed the Toronto Marlies, 2-1.
Kasperi Kapanen got the scoring started early in the first period. Brett Lernout took an interference penalty and on the ensuing power-play, Kapanen ripped a shot past Yann Danis. The goal was initially waived off, but after a review, they awarded Kapanen his eighth of the year.
After the goal, the Marlies seemed to be a step behind. For the rest of the first period, the Ice Caps had great offensive zone pressure and Antoine Bibeau made some great saves. The Marlies were playing with the puck too much at times, leading to a number of great scoring chances by the Ice Caps.
The Marlies started the second period with great offensive zone pressure. But that would be short lived.
Justin Holl missed his assignment covering Markus Eisenschmid, as he was able to sneak in behind and make it 1-1 game off a pass from Max Friberg. Eisenschmid would soon return the favour, earning an assist on Friberg’s goal minutes later.
While it was a better second period for the Marlies, they headed into the third down 2-1.
They dominated play in the third only allowing one shot against. Kapanen had a glorious opportunity to tie the game. He was able to be goalie Yann Danis, but not the crossbar.
“It wasn’t our best I think, obviously, there was parts of the game where I think we controlled the game and did the things that we want to accomplish,” said forward Colin Smith. “The second and third I thought we played pretty well, especially late we had some chances and were able to apply some pressure. Obviously we did some good things, but we want to establish ourselves as a team that can be doing that all the time.”
Head Coach Sheldon Keefe wasn’t happy with the first period effort but was happy about the play in the second and third despite the two goals.
“We played right into their hands,” said Keefe. “We didn’t move the puck quickly, slowed the game down to a pace that they were more comfortable with. It took us a while to get going.”
For forty minutes, the chances were there but it seemed no matter how many chances they got, the Ice Caps were there to thwart every shot thrown at their net. The missed opportunities were the difference makers in the game. The Marlies didn’t capitalize, while the Ice Caps were able to make their chances count.
“We had numerous, numerous chances, really good looks at the net,” Keefe said. “As it turns out, six or seven of our best chances of the night, we don’t even register a shot on and they block or we miss the net entirely and obviously the crossbar on the breakaway. We had more than enough opportunities to win the game, so we feel good about that. Don’t feel good about the first period.
“We have some things to build upon, obviously, but it would’ve been nice to be on the right side of this. We got to find a way to get pucks behind the line.”
“I think it’s just a learning curve,” Smith said. “We got to be our best the whole game and really deserve the two points.”
The Marlies had to shake this loss off quickly, as they faced the Ice Cape again Sunday afternoon.
Sunday, November 20th, 2016:
It was an intense 0-0 game through two periods, but the Toronto Marlies responded with a great group effort, winning the second game of the weekend series, 3-0.
Garrett Sparks made 19 saves earning the shutout, while Andrew Nielsen led the way offensively, with a goal and an assist. Byron Froese also recorded a goal and an assist, while Brendan Leipsic recorded his fifth goal and American League leading 19th point of the season.
After a disappointing start to the game the night before, the Marlies made sure that they didn’t want a repeat. They were able to keep Charlie Lindgren busy through two periods with 23 shots on goal.
The Marlies kept the pressure on with 17 shots in the third and three straight goals.
Nielsen started the scoring with a rocket of a shot early in the period. Froese then responded by tipping Nielsen’s point shot on the power-play later on. Leipsic then sealed the deal by scoring an empty-net goal with 18 seconds left in the game.
After Keefe’s comments the night before, they were able to build upon the loss the previous night and were able to get pucks “behind the line”.