It was an OT goal thriller at Coca-Cola Coliseum. That was one of few thrills in the game. OK, it wasn’t that bad, but it was what you could say was a game where two teams played a near perfectly executed defence. It wasn’t until they started wearing each other down that the goals happened. The game inevitably wound up in OT, with a shootout luckily avoided by Cracknell’s last minute goal.
Marlies Lines Tuesday
Carl Grundstrom – Chris Mueller – Jeremy Bracco
Dmytro Timashov – Adam Cracknell – Sam Gagner
Mason Marchment – Josh Jooris – Trevor Moore
Griffen Molino – Colin Greening – JJ Piccinich
Calle Rosen – Timothy Liljegren
Andreas Borgman – Vincent LoVerde
Sam Jardine – Jordan Subban
These are mostly the same lines as we had at the game on Saturday against the Wolf Pack, though there was a flip between Bracco and Gagner, at least for most of the game.
Jeff Glass started in net again for the Marlies, backed up by Eamon McAdam.
The Rocket have a familiar name in Byron Froese on the team. Two familiar names not there are Rinat Valiev and Kerby Rychel, both Marlies last season that were traded to the Canadiens organisation, but both flipped by the Habs in the off-season to the Flames organisation as a part of two separate deals. The Marlies will likely never see those two again, unless they are in a Calder Cup Final against the Stockton Heat.
Goals? What goals? Oh right, there were three after all, two in regulation and one in overtime. You could be forgiven in the first period for wondering if the game would end with no goals and be decided in a shootout. After the end of the first period the SOG totals were only 9-3 in favour of the Marlies. Zero penalties were handed out, so there wasn’t even an opportunity to observe a power play at this point in the game.
The Cracknell line didn’t generate many scoring chances to start, but they maintained long offensive zone shifts, with some shots that were close to being scoring chances.
There were so many breakouts broken up in the neutral zone by both teams it was at times like watching a very long rally in a tennis game, with the puck moving between the two blue lines over and over.
Grundstrom wrapped up the scoring chances and the period ended with Chris Mueller chirping the Habs goalie Charlie Lindgren two inches from his face while one of their defenders hid the puck behind their net. Not sure if they have a history, but it was fun to watch.
In the second period, the penalties finally started up. Laval took three in the period, though the Leafs did not convert on the power play. The Rocket didn’t convert on their one chance either.
Borgman ended the period by showing the Rocket he was not happy with them infringing on Glass’s crease. He further fought back with a nice scoring chance that was deflected away to end the period.
Finally in the third period we got goals!
This was the first AHL point for Piccinich who was the Leafs selection 103rd overall in the 2014 NHL Draft. “It was an important one for our team, so it’s a lot of fun,” he said confidently.
You might notice the goal was a bit wonky. Way up high we weren’t sure how the puck actually went in the net. It looks like Lindgren may have accidentally pushed it in himself under his pads. No matter how it got there, Piccinich spotted it, gesticulating wildly to let everyone know it passed the red line. “I don’t think any of us saw it at first,” but he finally did view it over the red line after he skated behind the net. “I threw my hands up and sold it best I could. The refs got the right call,“ he smirked.
The Rocket managed to tie it up later in the period, and the second would end with the game tied 1-1.
There were no more goals in the third, so it went to four-on-four OT. After a scary scoring chance by Michael Chaput, Cracknell scored the clutch goal with under one minute left before the shootout.
Glass thought it was a team effort. “I don’t think it was just me. I think it was the whole team that had the mentality that we were not going to be denied,” he said. “We made very hard on them,” said Marlies Coach Sheldon Keefe about Glass and Kaskisuo about the team’s start to the season. He thought things are now better. “We’re making life a little bit easier on them [now] and they’re making the saves.”
Injuries to players are on the mind right now and Marlies Coach Sheldon Keefe addressed two of them. First, on Adam Brooks he said “he’s been skating, he’s feeling better, but we’re not expecting him this week.”
Rasmus Sandin’s return has been eagerly anticipated. “We expect him to be in the near future hear. If it’s not the next game, it would surely be the one after that,” however they are going to take their time to figure it out. On whether or not he would go overseas this season Keefe demurred. He was asked with a direct and pointed question but simply reiterated his earlier comment, saying “Now that he’s healthy he’s going to come in and play games for us,” which leaves the door open for the decision to be made at a later date.
The Coliseum is about to be turned over to the animals for the Royal Winter Fair which means the Marlies are planning to play a few weeks of games out of town. The last home game before the Fair is on Friday night against the Syracuse Crunch (Lightning affiliate). After that they won’t be back playing at home until Saturday November 17.