By Stan Smith

In this edition of the Toronto Marlies weekly report, Stan Smith outlines the team’s week of play.

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Marlies Lose 7-3 to Milwaukee Admirals

The Toronto Marlies played a rare, and strange, Wednesday game this week. The reason I say “strange” is because it was at a strange time, 11:30 a.m. It must have been a primary school promotion as the rink was full of young children. It was also a strange game in that each period seemed like a completely different game. The first period was a plodding period that ended with the score tied 0-0.

The way the second period started was eerily similar to the Maple Leafs/Senators game that saw Ottawa score three goals on three shots in just over three minutes. In the Marlies case, the Milwaukee Admirals scored three goals on their first three shots in a minute and 35 seconds to start the second period. That chased Marlies’ starter Martin Jones from the game.

Keith Petruzzelli came in to replace Jones. The Admirals added another goal four minutes later to go up four zip before Nick Abruzzesse one-timed a power play goal past Milwaukee goalie Troy Grosenick.

The third period saw three goals scored in 1:45. The Marlies scored two of them. The first Marlies’ goal was scored by Joe Blandisi on an identical one-time shot to the first goal from the right circle on the power play. The second Marlies goal was on a three-way passing play off the rush that was finished off by Kieffer Bellows just nine seconds after Joakim Kemell gave the Admirals a 5-2 lead.

With the score 5-3, head coach John Gruden decided to pull Petruzzelli with just under three minutes left in the game. After the Marlies had a glorious scoring chance, Milwaukee scored into the empty net on a play that looked offside but there was no call. The Marlies argued the non-call to no avail. Defenseman William Villeneuve argued too enthusiastically and was given a ten-minute misconduct penalty for his efforts.

With just over a minute left in the game, the score now 6-3 Admirals, and with Petruzzelli back in the net Milwaukee added insult to injury by scoring a seventh goal. The final score was 7-3 for the Griffins. However, the game didn’t feel as lopsided as that. Three goals on three shots in just over a minute can do that. 

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Marlies Pick Up 7-3 Win Over the Grand Rapid Griffins

On Friday night the Marlies visited the Griffins in Grand Rapids in the first of two weekend games. They flipped the score from Wednesday’s game winning this one 7-3. This game was more of what you might expect in a game with the score lopsided score like that. The Marlies built a 5-1 lead on goals by Josiah Slavin, Nick Abruzzese, Keiffer Bellows, and two by Dmitry Ovchinnikov. The Griffins made a game of it in the third period when they scored twice before Alex Steeves put the game away with an empty-net goal to make the score 6-3 Marlies.

Nick Abruzzese, Maple Leafs

Shortly after that, a melee broke out between the player’s benches. There were four fighting major penalties, nine misconduct penalties, and a double minor to ex-Leaf Zach Aston-Reese handed out in the brawl, giving the Marlies a 39-second power play to end the game. They made the most of it, as Ovchinnikov scored again to give him a hat trick in the game. No hats (or bras) were thrown on the ice that I saw. 

Abruzzesse added two assists to his goal to give him three points in the game. Defenseman Max Lajoie had three assists as well. Steeves increased his team-leading point output to 13 points in 11 games with his goal and an assist. Keith Petruzzelli stopped 21 of the 24 shots he faced to pick up his third win to go with a regulation loss and an overtime loss. 

Kyle Clifford was given a five-minute major spearing penalty and a game misconduct for spearing a Griffins’ player early in the second period. 

Marlies Put Up 4-0 Win Over the Griffins

The Marlies completed a weekend sweep of the Grand Rapid Griffins with a 4-0 win on Saturday night.

Dennis Hildeby pitched his second shutout in a row as he stopped all 23 shots that he faced in the game. Hildeby didn’t have to make many spectacular saves as the Marlies did a good job of limiting the Griffins’ scoring chances. 

Hildeby has had a great beginning to the season. After four starts his Save Percentage of 0.950 and his Goals-Against-Average of 1.26 GAA are both tops in the American Hockey League.  

Joseph Blandisi, Alex Steeves, Dimitry Ovchinnikov (with his fourth goal in two games), and Keiffer Bellows scored the goals for the Marlies. Nick Abruzzese picked up three assists in the game. 

Steeves continues to lead the team in scoring with eight goals, six assists, and fourteen points in 12 games. Blandisi is one point shy of a point-a-game pace with ten points in eleven games played. Bellows, while still on a PTO has scored seven points, including four goals in the five games he has played. I would be surprised if we don’t hear the Marlies have signed the former nineteenth-overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft soon. 

The two wins in three games improve the Marlies record to 7-3-2 and move them into a tie for first place in the AHL’s North Division with the Rochester Americans, who have an identical 7-3-2 record.  

The Marlies return home after completing their successful seven-game road trip with four wins, two losses, and an overtime loss. They take on the visiting Manitoba Moose on Saturday and Sunday. Both games have a 4:00 pm start. 

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