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Marlies head to Newfoundland after final regular season games at Ricoh Coliseum

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The Marlies end the regular season facing their potential first round playoff opponent.

Andreas Johnsson looking for the puck on Saturday April 8
Christian Bonin TSGPhoto.com

The Marlies have clinched a playoff spot, but their regular season still has two games left.

Last Saturday they played against the Hershey Bears, affiliates of the Washington Capitals. It didn’t turn out at all like Coach Sheldon Keefe wanted, noting “we had no real life, no real energy in any of our lines.”

The Marlies lost 2-1 when the Bears scored their second goal with eight seconds in the third period. Kasimir Kaskisuo was shown immediately after that goal on the big screen and he looked devastated. He didn’t deserve to feel that way. He was great in the game.

On Sunday there was a reversal of fortune. the Marlies defeated the Rochester Americans 4-3. Sunday’s game started with a tribute to the 1967 Memorial Cup champion Toronto Marlies. Many were on hand for the event and ceremony.

Also on hand was the Memorial Cup itself. Humourously, everyone left the ice after the ceremony but the Memorial Cup was still left behind on the display table. The players, now doing a warm up skate, seemed perplexed as to what to do. It was eventually taken away.

The match against the Amerks was again rather physical. Rich Clune was back in the line up and fought Justin Vaive — yes, son of Rick Vaive — to put him in his place after pulling a dumb stunt move in front of the net.

The best moment of the game was this final goal by Justin Holl on a sweet breakaway after a perfect tape-to-tape pass by Kerby Rychel.

The End of the AHL Regular Season

The Marlies wrap up their regular season playing the IceCaps in St. John’s, Newfoundland in games today and tomorrow. The IceCaps are fourth in the AHL North Division, and it will be their final two regular season games. As of now, the IceCaps have yet to clinch, but, if the standings were finalised as present, they would end up playing against the Marlies in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoff.

This weekend’s games could get testy as a “playoff dress rehearsal,” a term used by Keefe to describe last weekend’s games.

If they don’t clinch, Sunday will still be an emotional moment for the IceCaps fans, as it would be the last ever AHL game in St. John’s for the foreseeable future. The IceCaps are moving to Laval, the city on the north side of the island of Montreal, and will be renamed “Laval Rocket.”

Flying all the way out to Newfoundland is certainly a unique, if somewhat arduous, experience for AHL teams, but players like Brendan Leipsic have fond memories of games on ‘The Rock.’ “The Leafs had their AHL team out there before, so there’s a lot of Leafs fans. It’s a cool atmosphere, a cool environment to play in. It’s always a fun time getting some games out there” he said.

Keefe also has fond memories of playing in the most distant outpost of the AHL. “It’s a very unique place. I enjoy it there. It’s a great city, a great community. They really supported it, in particular, I think, when we come there. The whole Maple Leafs-[Canadiens] rivalry — obviously, the connection with the St. John’s Maple Leafs — so it’s always a little special when we’re there. It’s nice to be there for the end of the regular season.”

“We enjoy our time there, and we’ll get out there on Thursday and be ready to play the final two games of the regular season,” added Keefe.

Marlies’ Captain Andrew Campbell enjoys it there too, and notes the IceCaps fans are passionate, and very loud. He looks forward to that same experience at Ricoh Coliseum when the Calder Cup Playoffs playoffs begin later this month. “It’s been loud here all year and we’ve done a great job playing on home ice. We’ll continue that in the playoffs.”

The Marlies’ Calder Cup Playoffs schedule will be released next week. We will have full coverage of the games.