The Marlies 4-3 victory over the Lake Erie Monsters on Friday night was the team's 51st win of the season, and clinched the AHL's MacGregor Kilpatrick trophy.
You can be forgiven for not ever having heard of that particular trophy before. As a comparison, it is like the NHL's President's Trophy, given to the team that leads the league in points. Winning this trophy is a sign that the team has a great chance to go far in the AHL playoffs. Since the trophy was created 18 seasons ago, the winner has advanced to the Calder Cup Final 12 times.
Friday's game vs. The Monsters started off with a quick goal by the Monster's Alex Broadhurst. A battle in the corner for the puck went awry and the Monster's Michael Chaput passed it out to Broadhurst who had a clear path to the Marlies net. While Connor Carrick gave chase, it was too late. Broadhurst shot it up and over Antoine Bibeau.
The Monsters' lead didn't last long. On the very next faceoff Connor Brown intercepted a bad pass by the Monsters deep in their zone and shot it over Anton Forsberg, tying it up only 6 seconds later.
The second period had another two goals by the Marlies. First, one minute into the period, Ben Smith scored off a great pass from Rich Clune. At 15 minutes into the period Connor Smith tipped in a shot by Connor Carrick on the power play, making it 3-1.
There was a scary moment when the Monsters' Brett Gallant collapsed on the bench. Paramedics rushed to the scene and he was taken to hospital. Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe thought the situation was handled well. "[The refs] gave everybody, and more importantly their team, some time to let it sink in, and to let it pass by, and move along. It's a scary incident and you never want to see that. I'm told he's doing well."
In a reversal from the second period, the Monsters ended up scoring twice in the third, tying the game. The first goal by Michael Paliotta was on a shot from the point that dribbled past Bibeau, who looked confused about where the puck was. The Monsters' second goal in the period was an unfortunate deflection. Mark Cundari took a shot that hit Mark Arcobello, which then went in the net. It was an unfortunate fluke goal and left the game tied with the period winding down.
The Marlies had good and sustained puck possession in the final minutes, but the game would end up going to OT, however in the last moments The Monsters' John Ramage took a slashing penalty, meaning The Marlies would start OT with a 4 on 3.
Perhaps making up for that earlier fluke deflection into his own net, Mark Arcobello would get the game winner, and the Marlies would walk away with another win.
The game featured the pro-hockey debut of yet another player, the Maple Leafs 2015 3rd round draft pick, Andrew Nielsen. "I was nervous for the first couple shifts, but once I settled in it was just another hockey game." Nielsen joined the team from the Lethbridge Hurricanes, where he earned 70 points in 71 games this season.
Sheldon Keefe was satisfied with his play in his first game. "I thought he looked like a guy playing in his first game. He looked a little uncomfortable, a little hesitant. We've been happy with his play in practice. We can see that it's there. He's had a good season in the WHL and it's a big jump coming in here now. I think as the weekend goes on we expect him to get better and he's certainly going to get a lot more opportunity to play a lot more than he did tonight."
The AHL regular season continues through to Sunday April 17. The final Marlies game will be that Sunday afternoon, and is Fan Appreciation Night.
Watch below for goal highlights of the game.