The Marlies started this season with back-to-back victories against the Comets. They have since played each other another three times before Sunday, with the Marlies winning twice. On Sunday, the Comets and their goaltender Thatcher Demko turned the tables and shutdown the Marlies, ending their five game winning streak.
The Marlies continued to add new players on ATO contracts this week, the newest being Scott Pooley, a winger who didn’t end up in tonight’s game, and Jesper Lindgren who has been in the Leafs system for two seasons now.
Also dressed, though not playing for the night, was backup goalie Evan Buitenhuis who was signed to an ATO when Garret Sparks was called up to the Maple Leafs because of an injury to Frederik Andersen. The Maple Leafs have two other goalie prospects in their system in Kasimir Kaskisuo and Joseph Woll, but they are not available at this time with commitments to other teams.
Marlies Lines Sunday
Trevor Moore - Miro Aaltonen – Kyle Baun
Adam Brooks - Chris Mueller – Ben Smith
Colin Greening - Frederik Gauthier – Rich Clune
Mason Marchment - Derian Plouffe – Jeremy Bracco
Andreas Borgman – Justin Holl
Calle Rosen – Timothy Liljegren
Andrew Nielsen - Vincent LoVerde
Calvin Pickard started in net for the Marlies.
Not playing: Scott Pooley, Dmytro Timashov, Jesper Lindgren, Martin Marincin
The game started heavily in the Marlies favour. The puck didn’t pass over the red line to the Marlies side for the first 90 seconds, and when it finally did, it was only a few seconds before it was carried back to the Comets’ side.
It was more than two minutes into the game before the Comets finally got a breakout that worked. You would think the game would be tilted heavily in the Marlies favour given the Comets shaky start, but it flipped into a back-and-forth game and the teams looked evenly matched.
The Marlies tried varying their approach, including making stretch passes and setting up shots from the blue line for rebound goals, notably by Borgman, but nothing worked.
A standout in the first period was the Plouffe line. Within the first seven minutes, Bracco, Plouffe, and Marchment had two great chances which were stopped by Demko. Eventually Marchment, out on a mixed line during a change, got one through with help from a beauty of a play by Aaltonen.
The Comets needed only a little over a minute to respond with a goal by Tanner MacMaster, an ATO from Quinnipiac University playing in only his second AHL game.
It was a tough goal for Pickard to deal with. The puck was shot above the net and bounced off the glass, deflecting to the opposite side where MacMaster was waiting, perfectly lined up to tap it into the net. There’s almost no way for Pickard to react in time to that.
The Comets’ second goal was only seconds later.
The second period started with some hope the Marlies could pull it together and move in to tie the game. They fared well at winning the board battles in the Comets zone, especially behind the net, which led to more shots and scoring chances, but they couldn’t get anything past Demko.
The Comets killed an early penalty in the period, but didn’t have to worry about their second one taken half way through. Moore took a penalty only three seconds into the Marlies power play to send the game to four-on-four.
Pickard stepped up to stop a penalty shot, though honestly doesn’t look like the Comets player made it hard for him.
Four minutes later, the Marlies were gifted another power play and an opportunity to score and tie the game, but it was nullified again. This time it was Mueller who took a penalty four seconds into the Marlies power play to send the game back to four-on-four again.
The Comets then scored off a faceoff with this slapper by Patrick Wiercioch. It’s actually a pretty good play.
I’ll skip right to the part that everyone is talking about: Borgman boarding Tony Cameranesi.
Andreas Borgman was ejected from tonight's Marlies/Comets game for this hit on Utica forward and ex-Marlie Tony Cameranesi. Cameranesi was very shaken up and needed to be helped off. The AHL is pretty strict about hits like these, wouldn't be shocked if this ends up a suspension. pic.twitter.com/RQIjlZ6gaO— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) March 18, 2018
This looks bad. Not shown in the GIF is the fact Borgman looked stunned by what happened. He was visibly apologetic, and bent down to confirm how badly injured Cameranesi was. There was no angry scrum formed the Comets players leading one to believe they also saw it as an accident. That being said, Camaranesi had to be help up by two teammates to skate over and get off the ice. He was not OK and did not return to the game.
If there was to be a suspension, it would likely have been announced on Monday, and it wasn’t, but the AHL has taken two days to announce suspensions before. We will post an update immediately if that happens.
There were no goals in the balance of the period, and the Marlies winning streak ended at five games with a 3-1 victory by the Comets.
Post Game Notes
Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe found that his team didn’t put in the effort required to win this game, saying “I just thought they were better than us for most of the hockey game,” and adding, “We didn’t have a lot of players today that seemed they were going to make much of a difference.”
Keefe further noted the third-period penalties did them no favours. “When you’re trying to get yourself out of a hole you can’t be killing penalties for nine minutes,” he said, referring to the five minutes for boarding received by Borgman followed by a high-sticking double minor against Marchment.
Adam Brooks has been playing on the wing as part of his development, and also out of necessity with wingers like Kapanen and Johnsson called up to the Leafs. It is projected he will be moved back to center soon.
The Marlies play a rare Tuesday night game at Ricoh Coliseum against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins who are visiting from the Atlantic Division. The Penguins are in second place there but still in a dogfight for home-ice advantage, which really matters in the AHL where the first round of the playoffs is a best-of-five series. Expect them to come in hot.
Garret Sparks has returned to the team and will likely be back in net.
Here is the game highlights pack.