(Carter Ashton gets Toronto’s only goal)
June 1: Marlies 1 at Admirals 3
Admirals lead best-of-seven Calder Cup Final 1 games to 0
Forward lines:: D’Amigo-Scott-Acton, Mueller-Dupuis-Deschamps, Ashton-Hamilton-Colborne, Rosehill- Engel-Orr
Defence pairings: Fraser-Holzer, Gardiner-Lashoff, Gysbers-Mikus
Goaltenders: Scrivens (Loss 58:46 minutes played, 39 saves, 2 GA), Rynnas (0:00), (empty net, 1 GA)
With the first game of the Calder Cup final in the books, the Marlies are facing their first true test of adversity in the AHL playoffs.
No disrespect is intended towards the Abbotsford Heat, who – like the Norfolk Admirals last night – took the opening game of their playoff series versus Toronto. But the Admirals are the owners of an AHL record 29 winning streak (28 regular season, plus one playoff) that they set, concluding last month.
Also, the Marlies were healthier, two series ago.
A cursory glance at the gamesheet suggests that the injury bug caught up to Dallas Eakins’ squad in dropping a 3-1 decision at the Scope Arena in Norfolk. The absence of Matt Frattin, Nazem Kadri and Mike Zigomanis was felt by the visiting team, particularly on the power-play where the Marlies were a woeful 0-for-10. Zigomanis – who last played in Game 2 of the previous series vs Oklahoma City – currently has three power-play goals in the post-season.
But to a man, no Marlies player or coach will use the sick bay as an excuse for the defeat. The return of Carter Ashton, scoring Toronto’s lone goal in his first game since April 21 – underscores the point. Ashton’s third period tally against his former team broke Norfolk goalie Dustin Tokarski’s AHL playoff shutout streak at 203 minutes, 43 seconds.
Eakins told the Toronto Star that he was happy with only “3-4 forwards, and maybe two defencemen.”
The Marlies’ failing on this night was their special teams. Aside from their inability to connect on the power-play, the eventual game-winning goal was surrendered by their top-ranked penalty-kill, which had entered the game at 95.1%. (58-for-61).
And so with former OHL Marlie Steve Thomas – now Tampa Bay’s director of amateur scouting – looking gleefully from the Norfolk bench, the Admirals drew first blood.
Toronto doesn’t have a lot of time to lick its wounds; Game 2 goes Saturday night at 7:15pm.
A more inspired effort is needed to stay in the series.
Rob Del Mundo is the author of Blue And White Beat, and is a regular columnist at TMLfans.ca
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