TORONTO– The 2019/2020 Toronto Marlies received a setting upgrade.
In the team’s first of four games at Scotiabank Arena, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Marlies fought valiantly, but it did not translate to a victory. Taking on the Utica Comets in the first game of a back to back, the Marlies would lose to the Utica Comets 4-3.
“Not our best game, we gave them like 10 breakaways,” said Marlies defenseman Timothy Liljegren postgame. “We just have to pay more attention to where the players are on the ice.”
Tanner MacMaster got the scoring started for the Marlies. Pontus Aberg‘s blazing shot from the point provided MacMaster the opening to tip the puck in the back of the net for his sixth goal of the season. This has extended MacMaster’s point streak to eight games, the longest of any Marlie this season.
After the Comets left winger Sven Baertschi tied the game up, Marlies leader in goals Kenny Agostino recorded his 11th goal of the season, tipping in Jeremy Bracco‘s shot on the powerplay to give the Marlies a 2-1 lead. Agostino has seven goals in his last eight games and is now on a five-game point streak.
“Kenny is an AHL veteran, who has led the league in scoring before,” said Marlies assistant coach A.J. MacLean. “In the room, he’s a great voice who is very personable and helps the young guys. He brings people together.”
Penalties and special teams defined the majority of the play in the second period. Both the Marlies and the Comets each took two penalties, the most severe being a Comets double minor for high sticking by Dylan Blujus. Despite generating scoring chances, the Marlies were unable to take advantage of the four-minute powerplay.
The Comets kept piling on the pressure in the third period, resulting in Kole Lind’s game-winning goal. Kole’s slap shot over four minutes into the third would give the right-winger his fourth goal of the season. But after taking a high sticking penalty in the second period, Darren Archibald would tie the game on the powerplay for his fifth goal of the season. Reid Boucher would put in his 15th goal of the season on a wrist shot, propelling the Comets to victory.
As MacLean stated after the game, the odd-man rushes are an area that needs to be improved. Despite Marlies goalie Joseph Woll making 20 saves, it just wasn’t enough to stop the flurry of the Comets scoring chances.
“No matter who’s been in net, they have been sharp,” said MacLean. “We weren’t sharp enough in front to get the win for him.”
Saturday’s game against the Comets at Scotiabank Arena was a part of the AHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer campaign. An initiative to raise funds and awareness about those individuals in hockey affected by cancer.
The loss to the Comets snaps the Marlies home winning streak at a franchise-record nine games. The Marlies record at Scotiabank Arena is 14-13-1. Against the Comets, the Marlies are now 19-10-1-1 over the last five seasons.
The Toronto Marlies are back in action on Sunday at 4:00 pm EST for the second half of their back to back with the Utica Comets.