(pictured: Matt Frattin had three assists)
Dec. 26: Marlies 3 vs. Hamilton 2
Forward lines:: Hamilton–Aucoin–Abbott, D’Amigo-Kadri-Frattin, Ashton–Colborne–Scott, Deschamps-Acton–Ryan
Defence pairings: Fraser-Holzer, Ranger-Kostka, Gysbers-Blacker
Goaltenders: Scrivens (Win 59:12 minutes played, 19 SV, 2 GA), Rynnas (0:00)
Playing before a sold-out crowd at Air Canada Centre, the Toronto Marlies earned their third straight win, defeating the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-2. The game set an attendance record for the franchise, and hosted the largest crowd in AHL history to watch an indoor game in Canada.
The Marlies opened the scoring when Bulldogs goalie Cedrick Desjardins kicked out a huge rebound off a shot by Marlies defenceman Paul Ranger. The puck came right to Joe Colborne on the right side for a tap-in goal. The tally ended a personal 15-game goal scoring drought for Colborne dating back to November 10.
Keith Aucoin gave the Marlies a 2-0 lead after firing the puck past Desjardins following a faceoff win by Matt Frattin on a Toronto power-play. The man advantage lasted just three seconds.
Controversy ensued when Zack Stortini was ejected in the second period after checking Nazem Kadri with his elbow. Stortini was assessed a match penalty for a hit to the head. Mike Kostka scored on the resulting Marlies power-play, but the impact was felt on the Marlies bench as Kadri did not return for the final 20 minutes.
“He was having headaches, so we immediately shut him down. They started to come on as he was walking in (at the second intermission),” said Marlies coach Dallas Eakins.
Stortini has a history of dirty, physical play against the Marlies, receiving 31 penalty minutes including a game misconduct as recently as November 17 in the Bulldogs’ visit to Ricoh Coliseum.
During the game, Eakins stressed the importance of retaining discipline as opposed to immediate retaliation. “We’re going to take a number and we’re going to remember it. And you hope that the referees get a line on it, and the league gets a line on it, as they did here today,” he said. “(Stortini) can continue to play like that because he’s costing his team goals and games.”
The Bulldogs responded with a pair of third period goals including a fluke goal by Nathan Beaulieu from behind the net with 0.9 seconds remaining on the clock.
Matt Frattin earned three assists – one short of the season high for a single game this season held by Kadri. “We’re a confident team, we always have been,” said Frattin of his team’s recent 9-2-0 stretch. “It doesn’t matter what team were up against. If we play our game and our role, we should definitely come out with a victory.”
Toronto’s two games are both in Grand Rapids on Friday and Saturday.
Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, and is a regular columnist at TMLfans.ca
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Dallas Eakins post-game:
Matt Frattin post-game: