The Toronto Marlies defeated the Belleville Senators in back-to-back games on the weekend, reversing a their fortunes after an embarrassing 5-0 drubbing by the Laval Rocket on Wednesday.
A pivotal moment in the game happened in the first period when Alex Biega delivered a check to the Rocket’s of Rafaël Harvey-Pinard.
Alex Biega with a terrible shot to the head of Rafaël Harvey-Pinard.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 28, 2021
He was given five and a game, and RHP would return later in the period. pic.twitter.com/yT9BMIsQcx
You can imagine that hit put the Rocket on edge through the entire rest of the game, and it all blew up in a fracas in the third period which was an old-fashioned line brawl. Here is the penalty sheet, for the third period only.
If you want to look at that in a more succinct visual, here is the aftermath on all that mess on the ice.
Meanwhile, at the Marlies - Rocket game pic.twitter.com/LEJZFydHZ1— Pension Plan Puppets (@PPPLeafs) October 28, 2021
Biega was suspended for two games for his hit. Rich Clune was also given a one game suspension over the line brawl, which he served on Friday, returning for the game Saturday.
It’s probably a good thing the Rocket weren’t the opponent for the Marlies on the weekend so tensions didn’t have another opportunity to boil over. Instead the opponent for this home-away series was the Belleville Senators, and everything quickly turned around for the Marlies who convincingly won both games 5-2.
Roster Changes for the Weekend
Alex Steeves returned from injury and played in both weekend games. More on him later.
Ryan Chyzowski and Bobby McMann were called up from the Newfoundland Growlers and made their season debut on the Marlies on Friday. As of the end of Tuesday morning, they remain on the roster. McMann scored his first goal of the season on Saturday.
This was the lineup settled on for Saturday’s game.
Subsequent to the weekend games, Michael Hutchinson returned to the Marlies and Ryan D’Agostini was released from his Try Out contract.
As noted above, the Marlies won both games against the Senators 5-2. Here’s the Saturday highlights package.
Ho-Sang continued to show his offensive skill with two goals on Friday, and another on Saturday.
Ho-Sang now has five goals in six games this season. He’s a sharp shooter and impresses with his play all over the ice. I really would love to see what he can do at the NHL level now, but we know the circumstances of his arrival here and that stability is what has been agreed as working best for everyone for the time being; that’s why he took the AHL contract. That being said, if he keeps up this pace it will be hard to think of a Leafs lineup without him on it at some point or for all of next season.
Steeves had a really unfortunately timed shoulder injury in the pre-season from which he finally returned this weekend, scoring two goals on Saturday.
Steeves, a signing out of Notre Dame in the NCAA, didn’t make our Top 25 Under 25 this summer. He was ranked a fraction of a point below our #25 Axel Rindell, winding up on our Honourable Mentions list. Even if he doesn’t keep up this pace, I suspect he will definitely move up in rank on the next list, and if he does keep up this pace then the soon to be 22-year-old will go far up the list.
Post-Game Comments and Thoughts
After the Saturday game a week earlier, Marlies’ coach Greg Moore expressed his frustration of how the team has only stuck to the game plan at best in spurts, and not fully committed to it, often seeing his rookie players going rouge at times. That opinion has now changed and Moore thinks the team has finally settled down, saying “we’re building our foundation. It’s still only a couple of games, but at least we found it, and the guys are starting to buy in to what it’s like to win hockey games in this league.”
You can hear that echoed from the members of the team. When asked why they were so successful against the Senators, the first words out of Filip Král’s mouth were “stick to the plan; do what the coaches say.”
Moore added that further work with this group on ensure the basics are always being adhered to is still needed before they can get into more detailed work on their strategies. “It’s still just the consistency of those same items,” said Moore, adding once they have that “then over time we’ll add more layers to our game.”
We will find out soon enough if the team can stick to the plan when they face two brand new opponents this coming weekend which they haven’t since at their home rinks since before the COVID shutdown. The Marlies are heading on a road trip through Upstate New York where they will play the Rochester Americans on Friday, and then the Utica Comets on Saturday. Then the weekend after that they head over to Chicago to play the Wolves. They will be back for their next home game on Wednesday, November 17th for a rematch against the Rocket.