(Scrivens beaten by bad bounce off stanchion)
June 7: Marlies 0 vs. Admirals 1
Admirals lead best-of-seven Calder Cup Final 3 games to 0
Forward lines:: Ashton-Colborne-Scott, Abbott-Dupuis-Deschamps, D’Amigo-Zigomanis-Hamilton, Engel-Acton-Orr
Defence pairings: Fraser-Holzer, Gardiner-Lashoff, Gysbers-Mikus
Goaltenders: Scrivens (Loss 69:09 minutes played, 30 saves, 1 GA), Rynnas (0:00)
Heartbreak doesn’t even begin to describe the Marlies defeat on Thursday night.
Fighting to avoid going down three games to none in the Calder Cup Final, Toronto didn’t surrender a goal to a single Norfolk Admirals shooter through sixty minutes of regulation and more than nine minutes of overtime.
Instead, it was a stanchion in the corner of the ice to the left of goalie Ben Scrivens that decided the game.
Norfolk defenceman Mike Kostka shot the puck into the Toronto zone on a routine dump-in. On a play that Scrivens has made thousands of times in his career, the netminder left his net to play the puck, anticipating it to follow a path towards the corner behind the goal line.
Instead the puck hit the stanchion and into the Toronto goal that Scrivens vacated, cruelly stopping just an inch past the red line. The collective deflation of the hearts of 8,084 fans at Ricoh Coliseum was evident in the stunned silence.
Norfolk coach Jon Cooper – whose team now has four chances to claim the AHL championship – even offered words of consolation. “I’m sick to my stomach for Ben Scrivens,” said the Admirals bench boss.
Cooper’s counterpart Dallas Eakins was blunt in his assessment. “I would rather have somebody take a pair of steel-toed boots and kick me in a delicate region than lose a game like that.”
Lost in the crushing defeat was the excellent 30-save performance by Scrivens. The Marlies spent the last half of the third period under siege in their own end, and were outshot 10-3 overall in the final frame.
But sports is an unforgiving endeavour measured solely by results. The only topic of post-game conversation was that unfortunate 31st shot.
“If you watch the replay (the puck) was almost past the goal line before it hit that stanchion,” said Scrivens. “It’s kind of dark, so it’s easy to lose (the puck) once it gets over the boards. I knew it went up and I kind of lost it as it was going into the corner.”
The Marlies now face the undaunting task of trying to rally from a 3-0 series deficit, a feat which has never been accomplished in AHL playoff history. The fourth game – and fifth game if necessary – will both be played at Ricoh Coliseum, which has been friendly to the Marlies throughout the post-season.
At least, most of the time.