No matter how well your geographic knowledge is of Ontario, Echo Bay is probably not a familiar name. If you were born in the 80’s you may first think of Echo Beach, the namesake of the famous Martha and the Muffins song, but it’s not the same as one situated along the wide channel that flows between Lake Superior and Lake Huron.
Echo Bay is the original home of Toronto Marlies center, Brett Findlay.
Speaking to Findlay in February, he told me with pride how he loves his hometown, and makes a point to return every off-season. “It’s a small town outside of Sault Ste. Marie. My grandpa was the mayor there when I was younger.”
Findlay is in the news today because he has been called in to action to replace Frederik Gauthier on the Marlies roster for tonight’s game against the Syracuse Crunch. Gauthier sustained a major injury last weekend after a collision with the infamous Jake Dotchin of the Syracuse Crunch.
Findlay was first called up this season from the Solar Bears on December 23. Over the 34 regular-season games he played, he scored 10 goals and earned 14 assists. On a points-per-game basis that puts him on the same pace as this season’s Marlies points leader, Kerby Rychel.
Back in February he opined on the chances of the Marlies reaching the playoffs after jumping out of the basement of the AHL North Division and was quite positive. “I think in our last ten, fifteen games or so, we’ve really started to turn it around, and it’s really started to show with all our success.”
Findlay has played for the Marlies in both of the two past seasons, but has never appeared in a Calder Cup Playoff game. Tonight will be his first.
Marlies vs Syracuse tonight at 7 on Leafs TV. Sislo in for Clune, Findlay replaces injured Gauthier. Dotchin suspended 3 games. #marlies— Paul Hendrick (@HennyTweets) May 9, 2017
In the Marlies last game on Saturday, Gauthier started with Brendan Leipsic and Kasperi Kapanen. It is not yet clear on which line Findlay will be slotted, but Marlies Coach Sheldon Keefe usually keeps options open, and doesn’t tie ice time directly to a line hierarchy.
Findlay also picked up only 8 PIM in his 34 regular season games while Rychel earned 118 PIM in his 73 games. Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe noted several times that penalties are an issue for his team: “We take a lot of penalties as a team. We’re not a physical team by any means. A lot of them are stick penalties and things like that. It’s an area that we’ve talked about, and we’re tried to address, and clean-up in our game” he said after a game in February.
From what I see, the penalty issue has been addressed for the most part, but there are still some players who are easily set off on occasion. There were three misconducts handed out to Marlies players in their last game on Saturday, though it does seem like the officials appear to always notice Marlies player’s retaliations, and not as many of their opponent’s.
Either way, Findlay has proven to be a calm and rational skill player, and perhaps that is why he’s been brought in to the lineup tonight at a critical juncture.
There is a connection between Findlay and team management that goes back many years. Findlay played for the Soo Greyhounds while Kyle Dubas was the GM, but notes he wasn’t gifted a roster spot on the team because of that. “I’ve known Kyle for a while. He’s given me a fair opportunity. That’s all you can ask [for].”
I asked Findlay after that February game what was his goal for the season. For a player who was starting to stand out, he was rather modest in his response. “Just to try and get in the lineup, chip in, [and] help the team; hopefully keep putting up decent numbers.”
And he did.
The pressure is turned up even more tonight. He will need to do what he has through the regular-season, which was much more than simply ‘chipping in’. The Marlies are down 2-0 in their series, and need a win badly.
It speaks volumes that Findlay was selected to play tonight in this critical game.
The Marlies start tonight’s game at Ricoh Coliseum at 7:00 PM. Scott Wheeler will be there, so make a point to go bother him outside the press-box during intermissions.
One person also watching from the stands will be Jake Dotchin. The player who has caused repeated injuries and made dirty hits on Marlies and Leafs players this season was suspended for the next three games by the AHL today.