Frederik Gauthier ended a double overtime thriller at Ricoh Coliseum on Saturday afternoon, lifting the Marlies to a 2-1 win over the Syracuse Crunch. Toronto took a two games to none lead in the best-of-7 second round series, as a result.
Gauthier fell and lost his balance, but managed to pounce on a rebound and fire the puck from a bad angle past Crunch goalie Connor Ingram at 15:10 of the second extra period.
“We need that win,” Gauthier said. “We wanted to go (to Syracuse) with the lead. It’s a huge goal, it’s a huge team win.”
Goaltender Garret Sparks was sensational in net in a 46-save performance. The netminder gave his team a chance to win the game by preserving the deadlock especially well during the second overtime period during which the Marlies were outshot 12-6.
After a scoreless first period, Toronto gave up the first goal of the game at 9:25 of the middle frame when a bad pinch by Martin Marincin resulted in an odd man rush and a goal by the Crunch’s Mathieu Peca.
Toronto got the equalizer courtesy of Mason Marchment, who converted a backhand pass in the slot from Trevor Moore.
A frantic overtime session saw both teams exchange high quality scoring chances with Sparks and Ingram engaged in an intense goaltending duel, Ingram eventually the first to blink.
“These types of games you need people to step up and we had many people at different times that did their part,” coach Sheldon Keefe said. “When you play this long in such a fast and competitive game against a good team, it takes a very high level of mental toughness and personal discipline and fitness and all of those types of things.”
The Marlies were without defenceman Andreas Borgman, who missed the last four games of the first round series and was re-injured in Game 1 of the current round. Keefe confirmed that Borgman will not play in Game 3 Sunday in Syracuse.