Hey, I heard you were a wild one.
The Toronto Marlies defeated the Binghamton Devils 3-1 Wednesday night in a game with all kinds of action and drama: goals, injuries, fights, and forwards playing defense. You name it, this game had it.
It began as a normal Wednesday night at the Coca Cola Coliseum. I’ll be honest, I was more looking forward to Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner’s performances at The Nutcracker ballet than the AHLers on the ice, but that slowly turned as the contest intensified.
The big story from this game was the injuries to both Calle Rosen and Andreas Borgman. Rosen was only able to skate two shifts before he fell awkwardly into the boards and had to leave the game. Borgman left the game sometime late in the second period, and wasn’t seen again either.
Head coach Sheldon Keefe didn’t have an update on either player after the game. Hopefully it’s not too serious, but it sounds like the Marlies are looking at other options before Friday and Saturday’s games in Laval.
Let's hope that Rosen is okay pic.twitter.com/Sr7GsrOVhO— Kevin Papetti (@KPapetti) December 20, 2018
The Marlies were already without Rasmus Sandin (World Juniors) and Timothy Liljegren (high-ankle sprain) heading into tonight, but with their two best remaining defenseman also gone, the D-core situation looks dire moving forward.
A list of healthy defenseman on the Toronto Marlies right now:— Frosty the SnowLad ☃️ (@HardevLad) December 20, 2018
Sam Jardine (L)
Stefan LeBlanc (L)
Don’t think things could not get even worse. Late in the third period, Morgan Klimchuk made a high, blindside hit on B-Devils young star Michael McLeod at Toronto’s blueline, sparking a full-on line brawl. Klimchuk was immediately jumped by several Devils, Pierre Engvall engaged in a furious fight with McLeod after he got up from the ice, and Eamon McAdam and Devils goalie Cam Johnson nearly got into a fight themselves. All in all, 79 minutes of penalties were given out at the 12:59 mark of the third. We’ll get into all parts of the brawl at the bottom of the recap. There’s lots of video.
Klimchuk's hit on McLeod starts a line brawl pic.twitter.com/qgrGOoRaxS— Kevin Papetti (@KPapetti) December 20, 2018
Klimchuk will get suspended for his actions, that is very clear after looking at the video. Unfortunately for the Marlies, Sam Jardine and Steve Oleksy were also removed from the game for their actions in the melee. After some quick math, you’d be able to figure out the Marlies had to play the final 7:01 of the game with only two defenseman: Vincent LoVerde and Frank Corrado.
“Stay on the ice as long as you can, don’t extend yourself. [Trevor Moore and Sam Gagner] said they had played defense till they were 12 so they were ready to jump in there,” said Vinnie LoVerde after the game. “It was fun, you get to play in key situations, and I think Frankie and I enjoyed it.”
Yeah, you read that right, Moore and Gagner gave it a go at LD. Moore actually looked pretty good playing in his own end, he was apparently the no-brainer choice at the time. It was also very impressive to see Gagner play defense during a three-minute penalty kill at the end of the game.
“For the D that were left, they had to take on so much extra, it was pretty gutsy,” said an almost-amused Keefe after the game. As for Moore, Keefe had a lot to say about his 24-year old left-winger. “He’s just got such good instincts, such good speed, he’s competitive.”
Keefe continued, and frankly went somewhere with Moore that I didn’t think we’d go.
“Also, I think his first year with us, he spent some time on defense for us in practice and he was very good; very confident. I’ve always kinda had that in the back of my mind. I was actually pretty excited about the opportunity to see him do it, to be honest with you. With a player like that, he can bring a lot from the back and offensively, so it was a chance to experiment with that a little bit.”
The midnight NHL roster freeze came and went last night, and the Marlies did not send either of Justin Holl or Martin Marincin down to the farm club. The Newfoundland Growlers are off until after the Holiday break, so Alex Gudbranson might be an option to be called up, but I would love to see the Marlies get ballsy and play Trevor Moore on defense. How cool would that be!
It’s a shame he’s not a right shot; he would look great next to Jake Gardiner.
Dmytro Timashov - Chris Mueller - Jeremy Bracco
Carl Grundstrom - Josh Jooris - Sam Gagner
Mason Marchment - Adam Brooks - Trevor Moore
Pierre Engvall - Colin Greening - Morgan Klimchuk
Calle Rosen - Vincent LoVerde
Andreas Borgman - Frank Corrado
Sam Jardine - Steve Oleksy
New Dad Kasimir Kaskisuo
I have been saying Grundstrom has been taking advantage of his shot a lot more this season. It’s a good one, and it beat Cam Johnson clean despite being simultaneously tripped up. Shoutout to Timashov for the zone entry on the power play, too. Their unit was notably awful in the first period, but they simplified their play for the second, and it paid dividends.
You can tell McAdam wanted that one back. I thought the guy at the far side got the rebound initially, but no, it just squeaked through on it’s own. Beyond that one blemish, McAdam had himself a pretty good night.
The first power play was outstanding in the game. LoVerde had to take over the point after Borgman went down, and he did a great job. The Marlies hemmed the Devils in for a solid 90 seconds before the goal, and LoVerde’s diving save at the line was a big reason for why the skilled players on the Marlies eventually crushed the Devils at the end. I think Moore tried the back-hand “JvR move” about four or five times in the game. He eventually got it to stick and it was the eventual game-winner.
This goal was really funny because Marlies PA announcer Simon Bennett was still announcing the penalties from the melee when Marchment scored the shorty. Once again, Trev Moore did a great job of hounding the puck (in order to give his defensemen a break) before opening up the perfect amount of space for Marchment to power home the brace. Moore really had himself a night.
FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!
So this all started with the Klimchuk hit. There was a fight earlier in the contest when Brandon Baddock and Sam Jardine dropped the gloves in the first, but I don’t think either side wanted retribution from anything else that happened in the game.
Here’s the full video of the hit and following fights. Judge the hit for yourself, but I think it’s pretty clear what happened. It was a headshot.
We have some more video from Jeff. You can see more of the Engvall fight, as well as the carnage of lost equipment strewn across the ice. Brooks did a great job of cleaning up the battle field after everyone was in the penalty boxes. He’s such a good teammate that way.
Aaand it’s line brawl time pic.twitter.com/Z8QZN1Q3Vx— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) December 20, 2018
Line brawl between the Marlies and Devils, featuring me losing my mind. pic.twitter.com/cbQAd7jcsa— alberto (@httpleafs) December 20, 2018
The aftermath. It took several minutes for the refs to decided whom they wanted to kick out and what minors to assign. Eventually they decided on five minutes for Klimchuk and the two minutes for Johnson be the only penalties that would not be coincidental. That resulted in two minutes of 5-on-5 hockey, followed by three minutes of 5-on-4 hockey that the Marlies had to kill off (which they did).
WE HAVE PENALTIES:— Frosty the SnowLad ☃️ (@HardevLad) December 20, 2018
Klimchuk - 5 for head hit, 5 fighting
Jardine - 5 fighting, game misc.
Engvall - 5 fighting, game misc.
Oleksy - 2 roughing
McLeod - 5 fighting, game misc.
Gryba - 5 fighting
Basian - 2 inst, 5 fighting, game misc.
Johnson (the goalie) - 2 leaving crease
If things couldn’t get weirder, Baddock got into a fight with Santa in a Marlies 69 jersey on his way out the door.
The best part of the Marlies line brawl was Brandon Baddock arguing with a Santa look alike (who was wearing a Marlies #69 jersey) pic.twitter.com/dbMoUKY003— Kevin Papetti (@KPapetti) December 20, 2018
What a night.