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Leafs fall 6-5 in overtime to the Senators at the Rookie Tournament

Timothy Liljegren was nearly the overtime hero.

Christian Bonin/

Hockey is back!

Timothy Liljegren, Rasmus Sandin, and the Toronto Maple Leafs took on the rookies from the Ottawa Senators today in Laval. Here is their lineup:

First Period

The Leafs started with the Grundstrom-Brooks-Bracco line, along with the Nielsen-Liljegren pairing, and the group immediately generated a couple of solid scoring chances. It looked like we were in for a thrilling and fast-paced game, but the play slowed down in a hurry, with neither team generating many shots on goal.

Toronto took an interference penalty eight minutes in off an offensive-zone faceoff, and I believe former London Knight J.J. Piccinich was the culprit. The Senators did not get much of anything going on the powerplay, and the Leafs returned the favour with a boring powerplay of their own shortly after.

The Senators rookies were off to a rough start, and had generated hardly any scoring chances, until they pinned-in the Brooks line with about six minutes to play. Andrew Nielsen ended up hauling down an opposing forward, and the Sens capitalized just seconds into their powerplay:

Ian Scott couldn’t find the puck in his crease, and Jordan Stallard took advantage. Ottawa pinned-in the McGregor line shortly after, and suddenly the Leafs were being fairly outplayed.

All in all, it was an uneventful period for the Leafs. Liljegren was Toronto’s most noticeable player, and Andrew Nielsen had a rough period:

Second Period

The second period was far more eventful than the first. Nielsen took a five minute major early on because of a brutal hit to Alex Formenton, but his team bailed him out on the penalty kill.

Not long after, Mason Marchment drew a penalty, and the Leafs decided they didn’t even need the man advantage. Jeremy Bracco entered the zone on the left side, found Durzi with a nice cross-ice pass, and the young defender sent another cross-ice pass to Semyon Der-Arguchintsev to set him up with a tap-in.

The Sens answered back just seconds later. Liljegren was a little bit lackadaisical getting back when Ottawa had a 3-on-2, and Boston Leier capitalized with a nice shot:

Toronto’s top powerplay unit looked terrific in this period. Bracco and Brooks showed off their playmaking skills on the outside of the 1-3-1, and Grundstrom and Nielsen were moving the puck well from the middle of the ice. Despite not registering a goal, it was certainly encouraging to see this unit general several scoring chances.

The Leafs tied it up in the dying minutes of the second, after Sandin jumped up into the rush and delivered a nice cross-ice pass. Scott Pooley could not take advantage, but Darian Plouffe picked up the rebound and fired a nice wrist shot to tie the game at 2.

This was an up-and-down period for Liljegren. He did not look great on the goal against, and he had a bad turnover on the penalty kill after trying a few too many moves. However, he also regularly looked like the best player on the ice, so I won’t complain too much. Nielsen started to play better in the second half of the period, but Bracco was the most noticeable player on the ice in this period because of his passing. 2-2 After Two.

Third Period

The Leafs were gifted a four on one in opening minute, and Bracco found Brooks with cross-ice pass, but the young centre couldn’t find the back of the net. They still got a powerplay out of the chance, and while they didn’t capitalize, Liljegren was impressing as a powerplay quarterback.

This was a horrible game for Nielsen. After the Leafs generated another powerplay, his ill-advised pinch handed Luka Burzan a breakaway, and the 18-year-old power forward made no mistake. 3-2 Ottawa.

This lead did not even last for the remaining minutes of the powerplay. Der-Arguchintsev dropped a pass back to Liljegren at the line, who sent the puck over to Ferguson on the wall. His shot was re-directed by Piccinich in the slot, and just like that, we had ourselves a tie game once again.

I am pretty sure that every player on the ice scored a goal in this period. The Sens scored to break the tie just minutes later, as Brady Lyle beat Scott with a nice shot following some strong puck movement from Ottawa:

4-3 Sens.

Toronto’s rookies had just nine and a half minutes to tie the game up, and they only needed about half of them. Bracco continued to put on a show with his playmaking skill, and Grundstrom was the beneficiary:

With the score tied late in the third, Timothy Liljegren drew a hooking penalty in the slot. Just when it looked like the Leafs would fail to capitalize, Nielsen fired a hard shot from the point, and Brooks found the rebound:

Brooks’ go-ahead goal came with just 24 second left, so this game looked to be all but over, but it wasn’t. Drake Batherson somehow had enough time to send this game into overtime.


Liljegren started off the 3-on-3 overtime for the Leafs, drove around Formenton, then centred the puck in-front of net. The puck tipped of the opposing defender’s stick, hit both the crossbar and the post, and somehow stayed out of the net. The Sens immediately rushed down the ice on a 2-on-0 and won the game. Alex Formenton, who had taken a brutal hit from Nielsen earlier in the game, was the hero.