CALGARY – Hockey is a three-period game; both teams knew that going into the game. But at what point does a group decide to put their foot on the gas? For the Marlies, they waited until the last TV timeout of the second period – a move that burned the Marlies in the end on Wednesday against Stockton in a 4-2 loss.
Dustin Wolf got the start for the Stockton Heat ahead of Wednesday’s game. The 19-year-old allowed five goals on 11 shots in Sunday’s contest. Meanwhile, Toronto elected to start Andrew D’Agostini for his seventh consecutive start. D’agostini went from the SPHL two seasons ago and is now putting up a sturdy .933 save percentage and a 1.86 goals against average.
That's 7 starts in a row for Andrew D'Agostini. The last Marlies net minder to start the first 7 in a season was Justin Pogge in 2008. Pogge went 3-3-0-1 https://t.co/p3fQM02rFV
— Todd Crocker (@ToddCrocker) February 25, 2021
The Marlies were the first team to score for the third time in the four-game series. Joseph Duszak attempted a pass for Rourke Chartier in the slot with the puck bouncing off Robert Hamilton to get the game’s opening goal.
A late goal from the Stockton tied the game at one going into the intermission. Connor Zary made a pass along the sideboards to open the play, Colton Poolman found Zach Leslie for his first of the year. Zary got an assist on the goal, marking his first AHL point.
By the intermission, one could tell it was a bit of a carbon copy of the past two games. The Heat outshot Toronto 15-8 and seemed to have plenty more zone time in the first. For the Stockton, they kept at it and waited for the fumble from D’Agostini.
It would be only a matter of time before Stockton was able to secure its first lead of the season. The play started with Matthew Phillips piping past the Marlies defense. Adam Ruzicka got the pass from Phillips to stun the Marlies and reach the tiebreaker.
The opening goal wouldn’t spell the end of the Heat in the middle stanza. Shooting high glove side, Alex Petrovic received a pass from Emilio Pettersen, and the laser had no chance for D’Agostini. It marked one of the first times that the Marlies looked like they couldn’t find the beat, and the shoe suddenly was shoved on the other foot.
— Zack Power (@FPHMarlies) February 25, 2021
At the end of 40, Toronto’s only life in the second period seemingly came in the last five minutes of the second period, with two of that containing a power play. Like Stockton in the first, Toronto had to keep the momentum that they had in the final stages of the period to keep themselves in the game.
Toronto’s only goal of the third period came with a keep near the boards from Teemu Kivihalme. The shot was a wrister, not overly fast, but the key was the bodies in front. With the slot packed like a rush-hour TTC bus, Kivihalme’s shot was impossible to track for Wolf. By this point, the Marlies had tied the Heat in shots at 25 apiece.
The midway point of the game seemed to be a parade to the penalty box. The Marlies had two consecutive five-on-three opportunities, with the penalty killers coming up clutch. In an odd sequence of events, game officials blew the horn to stop play with the Marlies in control and in firing position. The confusion created a distraction for Stockton, which was able to rest after having their special teams out for continuous minutes.
“From what the referee told me, a scorekeeper put in the wrong number,” said Kenny Agostino, “They couldn’t change it, so 5-10 seconds in, they decided to buzz it down. I guess the ruling is, we don’t get the time awarded back; it’s a scorekeeper error.”
Toronto put all their cards on the table in the late stages of the frame. Ruzicka knew that. With a long pass from the defensive zone, Ruzicka took a quick wrister to push Stockton ahead of Toronto 4-2.
— Zack Power (@FPHMarlies) February 25, 2021
With Stockton doubling up on Toronto, the game can be looked at possession-wise, a two-period to one for Stockton. Toronto only began to turn on the jets in the last few minutes of the second period and with another push in the third. Special teams went 0-for-6, including two five-on-threes. In the end, the Marlies adjustments were too little, too late.
The next game between the two will come on Friday at 4:00 pm ET. The game will be live on AHL TV.
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