By Stan Smith

In this post, Stan offers his game reviews for the AHL Toronto Marlies. Best wishes to readers for a great holiday from The Old Prof Hockey.

Related: Maple Leafs Choice in the Crease? Jones or Samsonov

Game One: Marlies 7 – Providence Bruins 3

After the Toronto Marlies humiliated the Bruins in Providence to the tune of 8-2 last Friday, I expected the Bruins to come out with a purpose in this game. They did, outshooting the Marlies 17-2 in the first period. Fortunately, Marlies’ goalie Dennis Hildeby held his ground only allowing a single goal by Georgii Merhulov. 

Dennis Hildeby, Maple Leafs Prospect in Goal

Toronto also happened to score on one of their two shots. At 1:05 of the period, Kyle Clifford knocked a Bruins player off the puck behind the Providence net and fed the puck out front to Zach Solow. Solow slid the puck under Bruins’ goalie Brandon Bussi to open the scoring in the game. 

The Marlies started to find their legs in the second period as the two teams traded goals. Jesper Boqvist gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead just 38 seconds into the period. Miko Kokkonen took the puck coast to coast for the Marlies before finding Kieffer Bellows out front. That goal tied the game at 2-2 midway through the second period. Toronto outshot Providence 15-9 in the middle stanza.

The teams traded goals again early in the third period. This time it was Topi Niemela scoring 14 seconds into the period. Justin Brazeau tied it back up again at 2:02.

With Solow and Trevor Kuntar off for coincidental roughing penalties seven minutes into the period, the Marlies would strike twice in 1:12 on the same 4-on-4 situation. First Logan Shaw would one-time a feed from Nick Abruzzese past Bussi to make the score 4-3. The Marlies would win the faceoff at center following that goal. They maintained possession of the puck for 1:12 before Ryan Tverberg found Max Lajoie coming on the ice on a line change and streaking into the Bruins’ zone. Lajoie beat Bussi on the glove side to put the Marlies up 5-3.

Just before the Slavin goal, there was a bit of a melee on the ice. Solow and Kuntar had a bit of a rematch doing some shoving and poking at each other but not dropping the gloves. They both got roughing penalties. At the same time, Providence’s Dan Renouf grabs Clifford and drops his gloves. With the two of them holding onto each other’s jersey, Renouf keeps trying to goad Clifford into dropping his gloves. Clifford keeps nodding his head no. Then Renouf takes a swing at Clifford anyway. Having had enough, Clifford drops his gloves and nails Renoud three times dropping him to the ice. 

At least Providence should be happy they have seen the last of the Marlies for the 2023-24 regular season. In the two games they played in less than a week, Toronto outscored the Bruins 15-5. 

The win would extend the Marlies winning streak to five games.  

Related: Maple Leafs Quick Hits: Jones, Matthews & Tavares

Game Two: Belleville Senators 4 – Marlies 3

Let’s start by checking off a list of things a team does not want to do in a game.

1: Don’t get scored on in the last minute of a period. 

Roby Jarventie scores a goal for Belleville with 42 seconds left in the second period. CHECK

2: Don’t get scored on in the first minute of a period.

Zack Ostapchuk scores 25 seconds into the third period. CHECK

3: Don’t give up a goal right after scoring a goal.

Not only does Tyler Boucher score a goal 26 seconds after Logan Shaw scores to open the scoring in the game; but, Matthew Highmore scores to put the Senators up 4-3 38 seconds after Kyle Clifford scored his second goal of the game to tie it at three late in the third period.

That would be a DOUBLE CHECK.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Highmore’s goal came with just 1:32 seconds left in regulation after it looked like Clifford’s goal would send the game into overtime. 

It would be just the second time in 13 starts for Hildeby that he would allow more than three goals.  

The split would leave the Marlies in third place in the North Division three points behind the second-place Syracuse Crunch with two games in hand and three points up on the Rochester Americans with the same number of games played.

Clifford and Bellows each scored two goals and added an assist to finish the week with three points. After returning from a stint with the Maple Leafs, Max Lajoie would also score a goal and add two assists for three points.  

Nick Abruzzese, Maple Leafs

Players with two points each were Joseph Blandisi, Logan Shaw, Nick Abruzzese, Josiah Slavin, Topi Niemela, Zach Solow, and Ryan Tverberg.  

Alex Steeves gained an assist in the Providence game to extend his point streak to 16 games. That streak ended when Steeves was held off the scoresheet against Belleville. 

After giving up seven goals on 62 shots over the two games, Dennis Heldiby saw his Goals-Against-Average go North of two for the first time this season, at 2.08 GAA. His Save Percentage also slid down to 0.921. His Won/Loss record in his 13 starts is now 7-4-2. 

The Marlies are now off until Boxing Day. They play three games next week including back-to-back on Boxing Day and Wednesday the 27th. At 2:00 pm on Boxing Day, they have a rematch against the Belleville Senators at Scotiabank before heading to Cleveland to take on the Monsters at 7:00 pm the day after. They return to their regular home, the Coca-Cola Coliseum for a 4:00 game on Saturday against the Senators once again. 

Related: The Ugly in the Maple Leafs 9-3 Rout By The Sabres

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *