The Toronto Marlies scored a late goal to tie the game, only to lose on a bad bounce in overtime 5-4, still gaining a much-needed point.
The Rochester Americans, who sit in last place in the Western Conference and second last overall in the AHL, counter-punched throughout the game. Seemingly every time the Marlies scored, Rochester fought right back, and landed the final blow in OT.
Toronto didn’t come out as a team fighting for their playoff life in the first, and the standard sound of thunderous checks that Marlies fans have become accustomed to was M.I.A.
Coach Greg Gilbert, Tim Stapleton, and Jeremy Williams all described the team as coming out flat, saying that can be a contagious thing, and that guys start clutching their sticks tighter and so forth.
Justin Pogge sat in the dressing room still in his pads and skates as the media entered, and he looked quite dejected and kind of stunned.
When asked about the game he said, “I don’t know, I think the goals that went in I didn’t really have much of a chance on, it was either a bad bounce or ya know, ya know I tried to keep my team in there and caught the short end of the stick.”
The Syracuse Crunch, who are just one point behind the Marlies for the final playoff spot, were leading the Binghamton Senators late in the game, and a prayer from Toronto fans was answered as Binghamton scored with just four seconds left in the third to tie the game, winning shortly after in overtime to the relief of the Marlies, players, coaches, staff, and media alike.
They leave the standings as they were previous to the game, with the Marlies one point up, but now with only two games left, both against division rivals and both at home, Friday-Manitoba, Saturday-Hamilton.
The one bright spot, which was downplayed due to the loss, was a personal accomplishment by Tim Stapleton who had a hat-trick in the game and took over the franchise record for most points in a season with 27 goals and 49 assists for 76 points, a record previously held by John Pohl.
Two games left and one spot to fill. Either Toronto or Syracuse will be the one to take on the AHL-leading Manitoba Moose in the first round of the playoffs.
Get down to the Ricoh and show some support for the only Toronto team, at this point, that can achieve a playoff berth.
Dig deep, boys. Toronto could use something positive on their hockey front.
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