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Marlies Recap: Adam Brooks completes comeback in overtime, Toronto top Utica 3-2

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And Garret Sparks sets new franchise record for wins in a season!

Ben Smith, Vincent LoVerde, and Garret Sparks against the Utica Comets
Credit: Christian Bonin

After a shakey 10 minutes from the Toronto Marlies in front of 7,856 school kids, the Toronto Marlies overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Utica Comets 3-2 in overtime. Pierre Engvall and Vincent LoVerde helped tie the game in regulation with Adam Brooks winning the game with one minute left in overtime.

Justin Holl and Garret Sparks at Ricoh Coliseum

Did I mention 7,856 children? Yes, I did. Thursday morning was the last School-Day Game hosted by the Marlies. These Marlies games are famous and for good reason, the kids are wild.

The Team

Forwards

Dmytro Timashov - Miro Aaltonen - Trevor Moore

Pierre Engvall - Adam Brooks - Ben Smith

Colin Greening - Frederik Gauthier - Kyle Baun

Rich Clune - Hunter Fejes - Jeremy Bracco

Defense

Martin Marinicin - Justin Holl

Andreas Borgman - Timothy Liljegren

Andrew Nielsen - Vincent LoVerde

Garret Sparks gets the start for the Marlies this morning, he’s still posting a .936 save percentage 41 games into the season with a record of 29-9-2.

First Period

Early roster change for the Marlies with Rich Clune going in for Jean Dupuy. After the game, Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters that Jean Dupuy was feeling sick and had to be made a last-minute scratch.

0-1

After a good start to the period where the Marlies jumped ahead 3-1 in shots, the Pierre Engvall - Adam Brooks - Ben Smith group along with Andreas Borgman and Timothy Liljegren get caught puck watching in the corner and give up the opening goal to Jalen Chatfield and the Utica Comets. The five players all appear to be in the right position except they all creeped too far to the left, meaning Ben Smith wasn’t able to pick up Jalen Chatfield from the point.

0-2

Martin Marincin gets caught flat-footed at the blueline due to a turnover in the offensive zone. He and Justin Holl converge on the puck-carrier, Lukas Jasek, but are unable to stop him from taking a shot on Garret Sparks. The rebound given by Sparks is far less than ideal and Tanner MacMaster (real name) is there to convert. Bad play from everyone on the ice, the Marlies are puck-watching instead of thinking about where they need to be.

After the brief stretch of atrocious play, Keefe shuffles the defense pairs in order to get more out of his top four.

Rich Clune — who wasn’t supposed to be in the lineup — gets hit hard along boards and immediately clutches his wrist as he falls to his knees. Clune would run straight to the Marlies dressing room.

Miro Aaltonen would get released for a breakaway moments later but he got stopped by Richard Bachman who closed off five-hole in the nick of time. Bachman has had to make several difficult saves from Marlies chances in the first period. Whether they be screen shots from the point, lateral movement due to defensean jumping up, or straight breakaways, Bachman has stood tall.

Because of the late flurry of shots by the Marlies, the shot-clock grew from 6-7 for the Marlies to 15-7.

The Marlies first line of Timashov-Aaltonen-Moore apply heavy pressure on the Comets for the last minute of the period, drawing a hooking penalty from Andrew Cherniwchan. Pierre Engvall nearly scores in the few seconds before the period ends but his shot goes wide.

After One

The Marlies jumped to an early shot advantage to start the period but allowed the Comets to catch up. By the end, however, the Marlies turned it on and ran away with a 15-7 shot-advantage to end the period. The Marlies start the second with 1:37 of power play time.

Second Period

1-2

Pierre Engvall puts the Marlies on the board with a power play even-strength goal right as the penalty to Cherniwchan expires. The Marlies had great movement throughout the entire two minutes but just couldn’t get the puck through the maze of bodies. With the penalty being split between the first and second period, that meant the first unit was able to stay out for the entire time.

Andrew Nielsen starts the play but Dmytro Timashov makes the goal happen with his lightning quick seam pass that freezes everyone on the ice and allows Engvall to put home the first goal for the Marlies.

Andrew Nielsen has looked a lot better in the offensive zone lately. He’s moving the puck, he knows where he needs to be (for the most part), and he’s making a difference on the scoresheet.

“I think hockey is a big confidence thing. When you don’t have that you question everything, you don’t believe fully in your abilities,” said Nielsen when asked about it after the game. “When you get that back and you start to watch video and see yourself doing the right thing you think to yourself ‘you know you can do this.’ It’s just confidence and knowing I can make those plays and do it on a nightly basis.”

We get more good news following the goal: Rich Clune has returned to the bench and is taking his regular shift again. His wrist doesn’t appear to be fully mobile yet but it’s better than nothing. After the game, Keefe confirmed Clune’s status saying, “Cluner had to miss some shifts because he had to get some stitches but he looked fine to me and seemed fine.”

Andreas Borgman has been better offensively in this game compared to nights previous. After a brief stretch with Vincent LoVerde, Borgman is back with Timothy Liljegren. Earlier in his tenure you didn’t see the same drive or jump out of Borgman but he appears to have found a bit of the groove he had with the Maple Leafs.

Andreas Borgman of the Toronto Marlies
Credit: Christian Bonin

“We need goals,” stated Keefe in the post-game. “It’s no secret we haven’t generated nearly as much at even-strength here of late. We need everybody contributing, certainly, that’s not just the defense but that’s through all four forward lines.”

With the loss of Travis Dermott to the Maple Leafs, goals have been hard to come by for a defense core without a 1D calibre player in the lineup. Hopefully Borgman can become that.

After Two

The Marlies came out of the first intermission flying and got a result early with the goal from Engvall. The Marlies were able to keep their pace up but Richard Bachman has been outstanding for the Utica Comets this afternoon. He’s stopped 25 of 26 shots including several high-danger chances by the Marlies.

Penalties have been down in this game. The Comets have taken the only two infractions in the contest. Despite the low penalty numbers, the hate for this division rival has been all but low. After a scramble in front of the net that Garret Sparks was able to cover, Andrew Nielsen looked like he really wanted a fight with Cole Cassels, who has been in his and his teammates faces all game, especially after the whistle. Unfortunately for Nielsen — and the hoards of children in the stands — the refs wouldn’t let it happen.

Third Period

Looks like the Utica Comets have put a hit out on Miro Aaltonen. Wacey Hamilton spent an entire shift cross-checking, slew-footing, and slashing Aaltonen in all three zones. All away from the puck and none called by the referee, I might add. Despite the constant abuse, Aaltonen shows the students in attendance how to fight a bully; by not giving them what they want.

2-2

Vincent LoVerde ties the game after a dominant set of shifts by the Marlies!

Adam Brooks and Liljegren start the play two minutes before the goal happens with a terrific shift in the offensive zone. They were able to get the puck on net on two occasions and the ensuing chaos in front of the net got the Utica group scrambling. With a tired and disorganized Comets group on the ice, Trevor Moore and Jeremy Bracco join Brooks on the ice, along with LoVerde and Nielsen.

They throw the puck around the perimeter and through the seams like the Raptors at the ACC, eventually getting the puck teed up for LoVerde who wires the it to the top corner of the net, a perfect shot!

With the game tied and a set of three games in three nights coming up, the Marlies desperately apply the pressure on the Comets, looking for the game-winning goal in regulation. Alas, it would not come. We head to overtime.

Overtime

Even without Kapanen, Johnsson, and Dermott, the Marlies overtime groups are scary:

Brooks - Smith - Holl

Aaltonen - Moore - Liljegren

Engvall - Timashov - LoVerde

Brooks - Moore - Holl

Wait, go back to that last one...

3-2

ADAM BROOKS SCORES IN THE FINAL MINUTE OF OVERTIME TO COMPLETE THE TWO-GOAL COMEBACK!

Justin Holl starts the play by doing what he always does: driving the net as a defenseman. Trevor Moore sees that there are too many bodies in front of him and that the player covering Brooks has left his post to scramble for the puck and deftly sets up Prairie Jesus for the game-winning overtime goal.

After the Whistle

The most underrated storyline of the night had to be Garret Sparks’ performance. His morning started rough, but after giving up two goals in the first 10 minutes Sparks shut the door and kept his team in it all night. As a result he earned his 30th win of the season; a franchise record!

Since this recap is a day late (please direct your angry emails and tweets to York University) we also know that Sparks has been named to the AHL’s First All-Star team with Ben Smith and Andreas Johnsson on the league’s second team!