The Toronto Marlies started the first two weeks of their season off on a high note, though one that was higher in result than in process. After all, despite their 4-1-0 record, the team had only outscored their opponents by a pair of goals and were near the bottom of the league in shot differential. A decisive effort was what the team needed today against the Charlotte Checkers, and that’s what they got, defeating their opponents by a score of 4-0.

We’re not going to invest too many words into play-by-play rundown of this game (or, as a general rule moving forward, for any game that doesn’t really need it this season). Toronto really began to pick up steam early in the second period, when Justin Holl’s hook on Warren Foegele created a penalty shot situation for Charlotte. Garret Sparks made quick work out of the effort, and from there, Toronto took control, outshooting their opponents 28-13 the rest of the way. A pair of goals from Mason Marchment pulled them ahead, and in the third, Dmytro Timashov and Colin Greening added two more in the span of 57 seconds to create an insurmountable lead.

Three players were particularly noteworthy in this one:

Timothy Liljegren

All eyes and brains have been on the Leafs’ 2017 1st round pick since the decision was made to keep him with the Marlies (okay, since before then too, but especially so now), and with every game, he appears to be getting better and more confident. Today, he was paired with Martin Marincin, who he had spent some prior special teams time with but had yet to have as a full-game partner this season, and it left a few people’s eyebrows raised.

I liked the idea, though. Marincin has the most NHL experience out of Toronto’s options, and more importantly, plays a complimentary game to Liljegren, that would allow him to focus on his strengths. More specifically, Marincin’s neutral zone play and gap control is at a level that can compensate for Liljegren if an attempt to carry the puck goes awry.

You could see the benefit almost immediately, as Liljegren showed even more confidence than usual in exiting his zone and pinching up to assist his forwards. For his efforts, he got an excellent primary assist on Marchment’s second goal, took two shots on goal, and helped Marincin get his own assist and four shots on goal. Not that Marincin needed a ton of help; he’s been fantastic since coming down and was again tonight.

Plus, he dazzled us all with this, which didn’t lead to much but is a super encouraging sight to see out of an 18-year-old defenceman adjusting to a new league.

Mason Marchment

Mason Marchment is a difficult player to fully get a grip on. He’s the type of guy you want to love for his relentless play, but when he’s cold, his only scoresheet impact comes in the penalty minute column. That led to him ultimately spending the bulk of his season in the ECHL last year, but this fall, he found a way to stay up with the middle club despite the odds being against him.

Today, that decision paid off; he was throwing his body around throughout the game, was positionally responsible, and had two very, very nice goals: the one above an example of getting into the best area to contribute, and the one below showing his potential to be a quality shooter if given the chance.

Garret Sparks

The Marlies have one of the most luxurious goaltending situations outside the National Hockey League right now. The decision on the duo has been made; Kasimir Kaskisuo is Orlando-bound while Garret Sparks and Calvin Pickard will split the pipes here. When the Leafs acquired Pickard earlier in the month, many felt that he would instantly leap-frog himself into the organizational three seed thanks to his NHL experience, but from the looks of it, Sparks has no interest in giving up his place particularly easily. His shutout tonight ties him with Antoine Bibeau for first in franchise history in the statistic (10), and bumps him back up to a 0.933 save percentage through four games.

Pickard will start tomorrow’s game, continuing the competition, but hopefully the two push each other to improve until one of them makes the leap.

Coming Up Next

Toronto’s next game is very much a grudge match; same time (4:00 PM), same place (Ricoh Coliseum), and same opponent (Charlotte). It’ll be interesting to see what adjustments, lineup and strategical, the two teams make based off of today’s events, and which ones are to get an edge over each other and which are simply early-season tinkering.

A Note

It’s the sixth game of the season and this is the first game article I’ve posted. Yes, I know; bad form. They’re back though; the silence has been site-wide and me-wide but we’re through that end of the woods now, as mentioned in other posts this week.

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