It was an early start for the Marlies Wednesday, hosting the Utica Comets at a school day game starting at 11:00 a.m.. The School Day games had been on pause since the last one in February 2020, only a few weeks before the pandemic shut down hockey.
While the league has been back to normal operations for some time now, Wednesday’s return of the kids to the Coliseum was a welcoming and raucous event.
The players even got free snacks courtesy of the kids.
Cliffy wanted a snack too 🍿😅 pic.twitter.com/2lxkc7nsCJ— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) February 15, 2023
The only thing that got the kids louder than the Marlies winning goal was DJ Waves playing a 3x speed remix version of Baby Shark. They all went totally nuts for that one.
Both Joseph Woll and Erik Källgren have been bouncing between the Marlies and the Leafs in the past two weeks because Matt Murray is out injured. Sometimes they move in only to help with a Leafs practice. For Wednesday’s game, Woll was up with the Leafs, so Erik Källgren started in net backed up by Petruzzelli.
The Comets had Akira Schmid in net. He’s one of the New Jersey Devils 2018 draft picks, and like Källgren, he’s already booked a few NHL games this season as he’s their go-to recall in net.
Here’s the rest of the Marlies lineup for the game.
Mac Hollowell is still out after surgery for a fractured kneecap (OWWW!) and isn’t expected to be back until near the very end of the season.
Other players scratched can be explained by the tight schedule of four games over six days; the Marlies usually rotate players in and out as for any one to play all of those games is too exhausting.
You like goals, they scored two and here they are.
The first is by Bobby McMann and it’s a nice one on the power play, his 12th goal in 23 Marlies games.
Quick lil' turn n' shoot 🚀👀 pic.twitter.com/d2W2Zk1xGG— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) February 15, 2023
What I love about this second Marlies goal is that it’s a revenge goal. The Comets’ Mason Geertsen had been a thorn in the side of the Hunt-Blandisi-Steeves line for the whole game, and he particularly had it in for Dryden Hunt. Hunt got the first big hit on Geertsen in the first period, but then Geertsen landed a big one of his own minutes later. The two opposing lines then played a physical slug fest against each other through the rest of the game, so it was great to see Hunt get his goal right in the net on a setup by Alex Steeves all the while Joseph Blandisi ran interference and kept Geertsen busy at the boards on the opposite side, well away from the unfolding play. It was a precision setup.
WHAT A RIP 🔥😱 pic.twitter.com/vsprvvZRGR— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) February 15, 2023
This game comes only a few days after another 40+ save win he made on Friday last week when the Marlies were in Charlotte, winning in overtime. It’s a heavy workload, but Källgren insists he not only doesn’t mind it, he actually likes it. “It’s a lot better than getting only 15 shots. I prefer games like this. It’s easier to stay in the game when you have shots coming all the time.”
Goalies are weird, so I can believe he actually does like to have it like that, and he did seem happy enough at the end of the game.
KÄLLY CELLY 🤩 pic.twitter.com/KuxVW06x9r— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) February 15, 2023
However, you can probably picture Coach Greg Moore cringing at the idea of one of his goalies liking the other team getting more than 40 shots on goal against him during any one game.
Either way, the collective Marlies defence owes him a surf and turf dinner after putting him through two starts in a row where they couldn’t turn away more of their opponents offence.
The Hunt-Blandisi-Steeves line looked impressive in the game, and indeed they got the game winning goal. Moore said “they have the capability of making high level plays and being smart defensively,” but he seemed concerned about consistency. All three players have NHL experience, with Alex Steeves returned to the Marlies only the day before after his first stint on the Maple Leafs, so it’s natural for Moore to expect the most from these guys, and they should be playing like this in both zones every night, not sporadically, however he acknowledges they are all advancing, and had praise for Steeves in particular, saying “he’s really finding his game right now,” adding “he’s put himself into a good spot led by his work ethic.”
The Marlies have a busy schedule in the coming days, playing a home-away series against the Amerks starting tonight in Rochester, and then they will be back in Toronto on Saturday. That’s followed up with the traditional Family Day game on Monday at the Scotia Bank Arena where they will face the Comets once again at 3:00 p.m..