It was a nice day for a road trip. PPP (Species and Hardev) went to Belleville to see the Marlies face the Senators at the quaint and newly renovated Yardmen Arena.

Once you made it past the #MelnykOut protesters, and navigated through the cramped ailes in the seating area, you could find the concession area which features a selection of hot food items “coming to the menu soon,” and choose from chips with a side of cheese wiz, popcorn, or nuts.

It was great, however, to see so many Leafs fans in attendance at the game. There were enough even for a “Go Marlies Go” chant to get going. It was like being at a Maple Leafs game at the Canadian Tire Centre!

Marlies Lines Sunday

Miro Aaltonen is still out injured after suffering a concussion in a game on the 24th.

Max Novak made his Marlies debut, playing on the fourth line as a stopgap while the lines are shuffled after the departure of Rychel and Aaltonen on the injured list. Novak returned to the Solar Bears for their game on Wednesday, but is expected to rejoin the Marlies.

Andreas Johnsson - Chris Mueller - Ben Smith
Mason Marchment - Adam Brooks - Jeremy Bracco
Trevor Moore - Colin Greening - Kyle Baun
Rich Clune - Jean Dupuy - Max Novak

Martin Marincin - Justin Holl
Andreas Borgman - Vincent LoVerde
Andrew Nielsen - Calle Rosen

Garret Sparks started in net for the Marlies.

Holl returned to the lineup last Wednesday against Syracuse after taking a puck to the face in a game at Ricoh against Binghamton. The Marlies defenseman has still been told to wear the full face shield three games later in order for the bones in his face to fully heal.

Danny Taylor started in net for the Senators. Taylor was drafted in 2004 by the Kings and has played a total of three NHL games in his career. He returned to North America for this season after spending the past four seasons floating around the KHL, SHL, and even the Czech Extraliga.

The first period set quite a tone for the game. Holl came screaming down the ice with the puck and looked to be a little out of control when he tripped and went flying right into Taylor, pushing him into the net with the back of his head smacking hard on the cross bar.

As you can imagine, the Senators did not take kindly to this and several got pretty pissed at Holl. However, there was a problem in that Holl is wearing  that full face visor and jaw shield, so he’s kind of immune to being rage punched.

The game got chippy. Holl went to the box for two minutes (I was surprised it wasn’t four) and the hits started to fly, but I suppose the officials saw it as accidental.

The Marlies killed off that penalty, but the Senators scored the first goal of the game shortly thereafter. There was some obvious gloating by the Senators, and it looked like things would settle down now that they had their vengeance.

Unfortunately one minute later, Ben Smith had huge collision with Taylor, knocking the goalie down on the ice again.

You can imagine what happened next, the gentlemanly Senators players understood it was an accident, laughed it off, and resumed the match ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE.

OK, it wasn’t that crazy. The benches didn’t clear, and a quick response by the officials prevented a line brawl. There was definitely retaliation from the Senators, though. The first to feel it was our little Bracco who was lit up by the giant 218 pound Eric Selleck. Selleck would continue his temper tantrum through most of the rest of the game, hitting anyone he could, probably frustrated by the Marlies near total control through the remaining periods.

Moore tied up the game, scoring the first of what would be four straight Marlies goals, and one of two on the power play.

Holl made it 2-1 in the second period. Adding insult to injury, Holl was voted second star of the game at the end. You can imagine how the local Senators fans reacted to that.

The Marlies blueliners continued their contributions with LoVerde scoring to make it 3-1 in the second period.

Finally, Borgman proved resistance is futile, by putting the Marlies up 4-1 early in the third period, and that was the final score.

This was a well deserved win for the Marlies and quite a night for the goalies. Sparks faced only 16 shots on goal and probably wishes he could have got that shutout. The Marlies peppered Taylor with a whopping 51 shots on goal, more than triple the Senators tally.

After the game, we spent 30 minutes in the parking lot waiting with hundreds of cars to get out of one of the two single lane exists, neither of which has a traffic light.  Any car attempting to make a left turn can hold up the line for five minutes, and half were turning left. Plan ahead for that surprise after a game at Yardmen.

Coming up Saturday and Monday

The AHL regular season is winding down with about five weeks to go. Teams have started to sign players to tryouts, including the Marlies who picked up two this week.

The Marlies face the Providence Bruins on Saturday at Ricoh Coliseum. It’s the second and final game of the season between the two teams. The first game was in Providence all the way back in October, and the Marlies won 3-2. Since then, the Bruins have had a decent season, now sitting third in the Atlantic Division with 35 wins and 24 losses. A player to watch is Austin Czarnik. The undrafted winger has 53 points in 48 games, tied for second the AHL, only one spot ahead of Johnsson.

While Monday isn’t technically the weekend, the Marlies will play at an early 3pm start at the Air Canada Centre. No, it’s not a holiday, unless you are under 18 years old. It’s March break for schools in the GTA.

The Monday game is against the Laval Rocket, which means it will mark the return of the recently traded Kerby Rychel. Our Montreal site Eyes on the Prize had a chance to speak with Rychel last weekend, and he said the transition has not been difficult: “Hockey is a good sport, anytime you move teams, the guys are always good and welcoming.” Rychel has scored four goals in his first four games with the team.

We’ll see how his old teammates react to him wearing the blue white and red on Monday.