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Marlies recap: Syracuse Crunch defeat Marlies 4-3 in overtime

A last minute goal by Chris Mueller pushed the game in to overtime, but the Crunch got the game-winning goal.

Christian Bonin - TSGPhoto.com

It was another morning school day game for the Marlies on Wednesday, the second of three at Ricoh Coliseum this season. Over 7,500 children from the Toronto Catholic District School Board were in attendance. It was also the eighth and final game of the regular season against the Marlies’ division rivals, the Syracuse Crunch (Lightning affiliates). The Marlies won five of the first seven games but lost this one in overtime.

These two teams could very well meet up in the playoffs which start in about six weeks. It was the Crunch who eliminated the Marlies last season in a game seven heart-breaker in Syracuse.

Marlies Lines Wednesday

Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe had to set up new lines for this game due to the Maple Leafs trading away Kerby Rychel and Rinat Valiev to the Montreal Canadiens and receiving back forward Kyle Baun.

Justin Holl also returned from an injury, after talking a puck to the face, for this game. He’s still wearing a full face shield and isn’t exactly happy about that.

Andreas Johnsson - Ben Smith - Dmytro Timashov
Trevor Moore - Chris Mueller - Jeremy Bracco
Colin Greening - Frederik Gauthier - Kyle Baun
Mason Marchment - Adam Brooks - Rich Clune

Andreas Borgman – Justin Holl
Martin MarincinTimothy Liljegren
Calle RosenVincent LoVerde

Garret Sparks

Not playing: Andrew Nielsen, Jean Dupuy

Injured: Miro Aaltonen

Keefe confirmed the Aaltonen has a concussion, and his availability for games this weekend was still to be determined.

The Crunch started Eddie Pasquale in net. He’s a journeyman goalie who has the fun fact on his resume of being drafted by the defunct Atlanta Thrashers in 2009. They also have a player named Jamie McBain which means this link is obligatory. “Ice to see you”.

First Period

I normally spend time in the period recaps talking about scoring chances, and who was on the ice for those against, but I won’t bother this time because all of the lines were making them and taking them. The Marlies had 47 shots on goal in the game, with many more missing above the net, including from Baun who looked pretty good—better than I expected. The Crunch play a fast game, but look at times like glass cannons. You can get a breakout and carry it into their zone pretty easy to get off shots, but you had better not let them catch you in the neutral zone or they will do that themselves, and it’s a goal for them.

The story of the first period was an effective kill of two penalties taken by Mason Marchment (oops!) and Smith quickly getting the Marlies up one - nothing on a goal only four minutes in to the game.

Second Period

Jeremy Bracco might be smaller than most on the ice, but he showed he’s not going to be intimidated, making sure to push back hard when shoved by Mathieu Joseph at an opening faceoff. The officials separated them before anything further happened, though Joseph got a talking to from Clune later on and then a super hard hit from Smith.

The Crunch’s Anthony Cirelli put them on the board twice in the second period, including this goal only seconds after the period’s first faceoff.

Third Period

The back and forth game continued. The Crunch scored to go up 3-1, but then the Crunch were reminded that resistance is futile. They really left him totally open for this shot, too, and it’s a great one.

The Crunch gifted the Marlies two consecutive penalties in the final five minutes of the game. The Marlies first power play opportunity didn’t seem to go that well, and they couldn’t get off many quality shots in close. Things changed for the second, with Bracco and Moore getting nice chances which were blocked or went high. Finally, Mueller managed to get it and tie up the game with only 33 seconds left on the clock.

OT

The Crunch won it 4-3. It was rather anticlimactic after the comeback in the third period. I will just leave this GIF of the end of what Keefe refers to as “the All-Star Game” period. Both sides had a chances to win it here. Por Sparks. He looks so deflated after they score and he did a good job in this game. Not a fun way to lose.

Post-game

Keefe was happy his team made the comeback and pushed the game into overtime. “[The Crunch] thrive on turnovers and in transition. We know that, and we talk an awful lot about that, and we didn’t take care of it,” he said. “That to me is the difference in the hockey game.”

The Marlies still stand at the top of the league, though the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Flyers affiliates) are getting closer. The Marlies have lost five of their past ten games. It’s the first time they’ve had a rolling ten game record that bad in this season. Based on comments from Keefe in previous seasons, I don’t think he minds it too much. He has regularly made a point the AHL playoffs are much harder than the regular season, and a little bloody nose for the team in the weeks before the playoffs begin is a good reminder to be ready for what is to come in April.

Up Next

The Marlies host the Rochester Americans at Ricoh Coliseum on Saturday, then head to Belleville to face the Senators on Sunday.

Here is the game highlights pack.