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AHL Game Recap/Analysis

Marlies Lose Third Period Grip, Fall to Monsters

Marlies Lose Third Period Grip, Fall to Monsters

TORONTO – Look at the top of any tree; most often, you’ll see buds. Look at the top of the North Division; you’ll see the baby buds. But following a two-game slump with Abbotsford and Syracuse, there was worry a monster could topple the tree. Heading into Saturday’s game, the Cleveland Monsters had a published 3rd-place Northern Division ranking with a 5-3-0-2 record without leading scorer Trey Fix-Wolansky and D-men headliners David Jiricek and Billy Sweezey. It opened the door to the baby buds either failing to fall from the tree or being swallowed whole by a monster.

The Marlies have scored on the power play at each home game this season. Saturday was no exception. Semyon Der-Arguchintsev stared down the line in rush hour traffic in front of starter Jet Greaves. He extended a branch to Logan Shaw, who wasted no time putting it past Greaves for the game’s first goal.

The Marlies, on a change, met Joona Luoto on the run, sprouted into the offensive zone for a shot that squeaked through Marlies Keith Petruzzelli. To that point, Petruzzelli had a calm, cool, and collected look. It would be the prelude for what was next.

Toronto almost looked defeated following the last goal. Moving into the final stages of the period, the Marlies looked dead. With a tired squad and an icing, the Monsters pulled ahead thanks to Kirill Marchenko feeding Emil Bemstrom, fresh after him being returned from an NHL call-up.

With two goals in the final 4 minutes, the Marlies looked out of sorts. After the second goal, you could make a case for them to call a timeout. In the first 16 minutes, it was all Marlies, who dominated the shot clock throughout, and turned in quality shots.

However, the middle frame was about bouncing back for the home team. The Marlies outshot the Monsters 21-13 during that time, but it was almost as though something was missing. They had good puck movement and many quality shots but could not find an answer to Greaves, who held his ground.

In the third, there was a certain buzz from Cleveland. They felt the bark breaking off and falling from the tree. Cleveland outshot the Marlies 9-5, scoring two goals in the first half of the final stanza:

-> The first being a power-play marker with excellent puck movement. The Marlies could barely touch the puck at times, and when an Owen Sillinger pass hit Cole Fonstad, there was no chance for the Marlies’ netminder.

-> Later, Justin Richards was left to coast into the Marlies zone without any pressure. The bud hadn’t just fallen off the tree, it was squashed dead. Joey Anderson made little to no effort to get back to stop the play, and the Marlies were lifeless.

As the Monsters would add an empty netter, you have to credit the Monsters for staying with the program. They took some harsh blows but rebounded in what was a near-perfect third period. Having played a home-and-home series, it was their 6th period in less than 24 hours. No doubt, both teams were tired, but Cleveland didn’t show it.

A leaf will stick to a tree for 2/3 of the year, as was the case for this one. When you lose grip when it’s needed most, you fall off the branch.

Coming up, the Toronto Marlies are off until December 2nd, when they face the Utica Comets. Cleveland returns home as they prepare to host another North Division rival, the Rochester Americans, on Thursday, December 1st.

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    Zack Power covers the Toronto Marlies for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @FPHMarlies.

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