The league leading, Manitoba Moose rolled into the Ricoh Coliseum to face the division rivals, Toronto Marlies, having won six of their last seven games.
There were no goose eggs on the scoreboard by the end of the game, but there sure were a couple on the faces of some of the Manitoba players.
The Marlies seem to be headed in the right direction as the playoffs creep closer.
As they have been clamping down on the defensive portion of their game, which is paying dividends, they have won three of their last four while only giving up seven goals including the 3-1 win against the AHL’s top team Sunday.
Justin Pogge got the start and stopped 21 of 22 shots in the win.
The tones for this game was set right from the get go.
As these possible first round playoff opponents and division rivals came out throwing the body around with no regard for self preservation and as Alex Foster came barreling out of the penalty box and thumped defenseman, Nolan Baumgartner.
The first of two fights erupted as RW No. 41, Guillaume Desbiens, took exception to the hit and threw down with Mr. Foster, who from the crowd’s reaction after the fisticuffs was the clear victor.
Desbiens received two for instigating, five for fighting and a 10 minute misconduct for instigating, because after all the hit by Alex Foster, was clean.
Forster voiced his opinion about the incident to me after the game by saying “I just got out of the box as you saw and then it’s kind of like the perfect storm. He was pulling the puck and was on the trolley tracks. I guess, it was just easy for me. It was a good thing he turned, so it was a clean hit and then I knew something was going to happen and if you’re going to hit guys like that I guess you got to be ready, so yeah, its part of the game.”
Before the end of the period, another fight broke out between Marlies newcomer, 6’3” 215lbs. left winger, No. 10 Jay Rosehill with Manitoba’s Tom Maxwell and a definite win for the home side.
Jay talked to me about his new digs here in Toronto and about being with a new group of guys who he has stepped up for twice in the four game played, so far, saying, “Yeah, ya know, it’s just a role I play and they needed a gap to be filled here, so I came over and I think it’s going to be a really good fit.”
With twelve seconds left in what was a rambunctious first period, Toronto’s, Ryan Hamilton scored to take a 1-0 lead into the second period.
In the next frame, the tight checking continued, with the teams trading goals.
One minute in, Manitoba’s RW No. 40, Michael Grabner, notched his 26thgoal tying the game at one, to which the Marlies responded halfway through regaining the lead again on a goal by rookie LW No. 16, Stefano Giliati.
In the third, Toronto’s power play, which has been non-existent as of late, came to life.
RW No. 19, Jeremy Williams, scored on a rocket from the point to seal the deal.
John Ferguson Jr. was there at the Ricoh Coliseum as he is now a scout for the San Jose Sharks and I had to feel kind of bad for the treatment he’d received over the last few years here in Toronto.
I asked him about some of the positives that have been working out for the Toronto organizations including the Marlies and the Leafs, that he had a hand in and he told said, “Yeah, you know, these players whether its Ondrus or Sifers, or you mentioned Oreskovic and others. Obviously, Tlusty has had a real good run down here and Anton Stralman played very well here and lately up top. Sometimes it just takes some time for some of the players to really develop and come up through the ranks and the people here with the Marlies have done a magnificent job developing. There are a lot of real good drafts made by a number of different people and I said, at the time, that there was a lot more here than we might be getting acknowledgement for and it’s a credit to the players and the development system.”
The Marlies have seven games left in the season to solidify their playoff berth and the win over Manitoba was a definite step in the right direction.