The Toronto Marlies were back in action with two games last weekend, both going to overtime, with one game ending in the Marlies favour, while the other went to their opponent. 3-on-3 overtime is unpredictable, and the Marlies learned that with these two games, both of which were within reach of winning outright in regulation.

The Marlies faced the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Saturday, defeating them 3-2; then the Cleveland Monsters on Sunday, losing 6-5. They still took away 3 points for the standings which remain really tight in their division beneath the Utica Comets who somehow are now at 13 wins in a row and easily running away with the division title.

Another interesting stat to watch is how the Marlies lead all 31 AHL teams in penalty minutes with 269. That’s an average of 19 per game! That is a bit skewed by the line brawl with the Rocket a few weeks back, but still, that’s a lot of penalties to carry and many of them are stick penalties which imply some sloppiness that can be cleaned up with some more attention on the ice.

The Roster

Kyle Clifford

Clifford joined the team last week after being claimed off waivers from the St. Louis Blues and played in both weekend games, spending time on the fourth and then the third line. This may have simply been a warmup for him to join the Leafs, and he was indeed called up on Tuesday for their road trip to California.

Whether he will stay with the Leafs or be sent back down is up in the air, but the Leafs are staying out in California through at least Sunday night to play in Anaheim, so he probably won’t be back with the Marlies for their games on Friday and Saturday.

A side note to the above is that Joey Anderson was swapped up to the Maple Leafs for the weekend, though he did not play there. He is now back with Clifford called up.

Ian Scott

Yes, Ian Scott is still a professional hockey player. You may have wondered otherwise, as he has appeared in no games for almost two years now. The goalie suffered two consecutive major injuries, the second happening right after recovering from the first. right when he was getting ready to start playing again this season. Bad luck is an understatement here. That’s why I was surprised to see him on Saturday outside the locker room after the game. We had already heard he was coming back, but the surprise was how he has been away for so long that he physically looks older than I remembered from way back in 2019. He is also now practising with the Marlies and could be ready to play in net for them later in November.

Saturday’s Game

On Saturday the Marlies hosted the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. This game came on the back of the debacle Wednesday where the Leafs lost 6-5 to the Laval Rocket after being up 5-1 in the second period.

Josh Ho-Sang acknowledged that there were still lingering effects from that loss on the team, but that the win helped them move past it, saying “I think Wednesday’s game is behind us mentally, I think emotionally sometimes it lingers a little and I think you saw that in the first period, but we bounced back,” adding “we had a new chance to succeed and we did.”

As Ho-Sang stated, the Marlies started out slow, going down 2-0 in the first period, but they came back first with Michael Hutchinson holding off the Phantoms, and first Marc Michaelis scoring his third goal of the season in the second period, and then Rich Clune picking up his first of the season.

Unfortunately, a further comeback in the third period would be derailed when Joey Anderson was ejected for boarding Adam Clendening, resulting in the Marlies having to kill off a 5-minute major. Clendening was OK, returning to the game a few shifts later, but that sucked up a lot of time to continue their offence, though the Phantoms took an offsetting penalty to relieve them of the final two minutes of the penalty kill.

The game went to OT and it would be Ho-Sang who won it with this amazing effort to score.

Sunday’s Game

The Marlies hosted the Monsters on Sunday and it was the first of three games in a row against the team. It was a perfect opportunity to build a quick series rivalry, and they did with a back and forth game which simply didn’t go in their favour at the very end.

This game shouldn’t be confused with the reversal of fortunes the team had against Laval last week. Even though the Marlies were up 4-1 at one point in this game, it never looked like the team simply gave up and rolled over like it did back then.

One key upside was how the Marlies power play clicked in this game, netting two key goals early on, including this one by Brett Seney.

This goal leaves Seney tied with Ho-Sang for the lead in goals at eight each. Seney had a second assist on a later goal which put him in the lead on points out right at 13 in his 14 games played. Ho-Sang sits just behind at 12.

While the Monsters made a comeback in the third period, the Marlies held out and added one more to their tally from Alex Steeves who has had a dry spell and not had a goal since November 6, but this one put him back up to a point-per-game level.

As noted above, this game also ended in overtime, and it didn’t go in the Marlies favour. However, the Marlies now have two chances for revenge this coming weekend.

Next Games

After hosting the Monsters here in Toronto on Sunday, the Marlies will travel to Cleveland to play them on Friday night this week, then they will play them again on Saturday, but here in Toronto.

That has to be a rough turnaround too for the Marlies as Google tells me it’s about a 5 hour drive between the two cities, assuming they take a bus there and back. They will get out of Cleveland on Friday night at about 10:00 pm — AHL games are about 2.5 hours long — so that includes an extra 30 minutes to get changed and the equipment loaded on the bus, which means they will arrive back in Toronto at 3 a.m. and basically have to be back at the Coliseum to play less than 12 hours later. It could be a messy game next Saturday, but the Monsters will more or less be in the same boat, making the identical trip. We’ll wait and see what happens.

Note that the Leafs are not playing this Saturday, so if you are looking for a hockey game to watch, get some tickets and head down to the Coliseum. The game starts at 4:00 p.m.

Here’s Greg Moore on Ian Scott and the renaissance of Joey Duszak’s defensive game.