May 21: Marlies 3 vs. Grand Rapids 4

Marlies scorers: Ashton (3), Ranger (2), Acton (4)
Griffins scorers: Tatar 2 (8), Mursak (5), Glendening (5)
Links: Box Score | Discussion boards

Forward lines:: Hamilton-Zigomanis-McKegg, Ashton-Colborne-Scott, Abbott-Acton-D’Amigo, Ross-Ryan
Defence pairings: Ranger-Yeo, Mottau-Holzer, Marshall-Blacker, Rielly

Goaltenders: MacIntyre (Loss, 58:29 minutes played, 27 SV, 4 GA ), Sparks (0:00)

It’s been a horrific eight days for Toronto hockey teams, particularly where third period leads are concerned.

With the epic Leafs collapse against Boston still fresh in everyone’s mind, the Marlies took to the ice Tuesday night at Ricoh Coliseum looking to stave off elimination against the Grand Rapids Griffins. Goals by Carter Ashton, Paul Ranger and Will Acton had the home team up 3-1 with ten minutes in regulation time.

And then, faster than you can say “Patrice Bergeron”, the cushion evaporated.

Detroit Red Wings prospects Jan Mursak and Tomas Tatar scored 32 seconds apart to tie the game, a scenario mercilessly almost identical to the one played out at TD Garden in Boston a week ago Monday. However the Griffins wouldn’t need overtime to close out the series. With 4:03 left in the third period, the puck bounced through a maze of players in front of Marlies goalie Drew MacIntyre and onto the stick of the Griffins’ Luke Glendening, who scored the game-winner in a 4-3 Grand Rapids win.

The Marlies were sent packing in the Western Conference Semi Final, bowing out in six games.

Coach Dallas Eakins reflected on a 2012-13 season that was effectively divided into two segments, with several regulars from the first half of the year earning spots with the Maple Leafs in January. “Our group’s been through a ton this year, starting with the lockout and the way our team was structured then, and how we had to battle every night to get points once the lockout ended,” said Eakins.

“It was almost like it was two seasons. The first thing that surprised me the most was the amount of success that we had right away at Leaf training camp, earlier on in the season. I knew they were ready to have a shot at it. You can pick a name out of a hit – Mark Fraser, Mike Kostka, Nazem Kadri, any of those guys.”

Marlies captain Ryan Hamilton was the first player to address the contingent of reporters covering the game. “It’s tough, it’s a bad feeling,” said Hamilton. “We had a great group of guys that could have done some damage. But, we ran into a good team – give all the credit to Grand Rapids. Obviously we were in control of that game, and we let it slide away.”

The Marlies tag line for the season after losing in the 2012 Calder Cup Final was “Unfinished Business”

After a second round exit, the motto will have to carry over for at least another year.

Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, and is a regular columnist at

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