Typically, a Sunday night Toronto Marlies game involves me either sitting at the rink or at my desk, watching diligently as it happens, followed by a write-up on whatever games had happened throughout the weekend. This Sunday was a little bit different; Toronto FC had a home playoff game, I had friends to hang out with before, during, and afterwards, and the lack of deadline that doing my work through this site allows for led to me deciding to take the full day off.

It was, of course, very worth it. The Reds won a shitshow of a series by “losing” the match (the stubborn soccer fan in me believes Osorio onside and that Vazquez’s quick kick was clean), and spending time away from work with good people is always a plus. But by the time I got home, I was exhausted and didn’t want to catch up on the Sunday game. On Monday, my internet was mostly down. But yesterday? Yesterday I caught up, so let’s quickly catch up before the team drops the puck again in a few hours:

Saturday vs. Hershey

Forwards Defence/Goaltending
K. Rychel M. Aaltonen A. Johnsson T. Dermott T. Liljegren
D. Timashov C. Mueller T. Moore A. Nielsen C. Rosen
C. Greening F. Gauthier N. Soshnikov M. Marincin J. Holl
M. Marchment A. Brooks B. Smith G. Sparks

Toronto’s first game of the weekend was a pretty thorough rout. Toronto opened the scoring six minutes into the opening period, seconds after Bears forward Colby Williams was sent to the box for a slash. Calle Rosen was quick to find Dmytro Timashov, who took a heavy wrist shot from distance to break the ice. Ben Smith that goal up nine minutes later with his fourth of the season, only to have Garret Mitchell restore the tight gap in the final minute of the period.

The second frame saw a much more eager Hershey group, which led to a bit more back and forth hockey and a lot more chippiness. Between the two sides, 23 shots were taken, which is a number that’s almost as impressive as the penalty count; eight calls meant that only 9:08 of the 20:00 played was at 5 on 5. Things loosened up in the third, and the Marlies took advantage, outshooting their opponents 10-3 and getting insurance tallies from Smith and Mason Marchment to secure the 4-1 win.

Sunday vs. Lehigh Valley

Forwards Defence/Goaltending
K. Rychel M. Aaltonen J. Bracco T. Dermott V. LoVerde
D. Timashov C. Mueller T. Moore A. Nielsen C. Rosen
C. Greening F. Gauthier N. Soshnikov M. Marincin J. Holl
M. Marchment B. Smith A. Johnsson C. Pickard

This was the game that took me a little while longer to catch up to, and going into it, I was a bit excited. After all, the highlights looked great and whenever you see a combined 73 shots on goal on the game sheet, half of which came in one period, you wonder what the build-up looks like.

Well, it looks like what was probably the most fun game the Marlies have played so far. They and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms played wide-open, high paced hockey throughout, and because Toronto was on a back-to-back rather than a 3-in-3, they were just a little more capable of high-speed creativity.

The results were super entertaining, though they started off less than stellar in the first period. Calle Rosen handed league goal-scoring leader Danick Martel a gimme of a giveaway from behind the net, putting Toronto down 1-0 just three minutes in. They didn’t trail for super long, though; ten minutes later, after many valiant efforts, the Marlies struck back. This one game twenty seconds into their first powerplay of the game, and in a mad scramble that was eventually capped off by Chris Muller.

Before either team returned to the scoresheet, we ended up seeing one of the most unlikely events possible; a fight involving Dmytro Timashov. Cole Bardreau seemed plenty happy to hug him until the scrum in front of the net happened, but once Toronto’s skilled sophomore popped his helmet off, any concept of a “code” fell out the window and Timashov was filled in promptly.

Both teams peppered each other’s crease in the second, wherein the Marlies took 17 shots and the Phantoms responded back with 19 of their own. Calvin Pickard was unphased by the opening strike, though, and seemed to build up strength and confidence as the game went. Dustin Tokarski wasn’t bad for Lehigh Valley either, but both Trevor Moore and Ben Smith were benefactors of loose pucks and quick releases in front of the net to move the Marlies’ lead up to 3-1.

Toronto didn’t stop there either. In the third, Nikita Soshnikov scored an insane no-angle goal in front of the net to make it 4-1, and Moore added a second tally to make the game a no-doubter. No doubt motivated by having a ton of family in attendance, this was one of the best games I’ve seen from Moore in quite some time; the short, scrappy playmaker was skating at full tilt from start to finish, looking for any available play to contribute to. Needless to say, he was one of many who kept this one exciting all the way until buzzer; so much so that the game remained captivating from start to finish despite having already known the score for days.

All in all, it was a very good weekend for the Marlies; many of the usual suspects got on the scoresheet, both goalies were excellent (Garret Sparks went 21/22 on Saturday, Pickard 35/36 on Sunday), and they extended their record to 9-3-0 on the year.

In about an hour, they’ll try to stretch their road trip winning streak to four games against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Just like it seems to be more often than not, the matchup is a battle of two of the strongest teams in the east, with both sides sitting at a 0.750 record and over +1 per game goal differential. Puck drop is at 7:05 for that one, so they’ll be playing alongside the Leafs.

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