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Monsters Swallow Marlies in Overtime

The race for first appears to be locked in by the Utica Comets, winners of 13 straight, but what about Cleveland and Toronto?

Monsters Swallow Marlies in Overtime

TORONTO – A game between two teams vying for a spot atop a tightly contended North Division. The race for first appears to be locked in by the Utica Comets, winners of 13 straight, but what about Cleveland and Toronto? Well, the Marlies are branding wins in seven of their last ten games; while Cleveland waltz’s into Ontario a point ahead of their Sunday opponent.

The opening five minutes looked like the Marlies were left in the dust in the everlasting feeling-out process. 5-1 were the shots through that time and a puck that went through traffic for the opener.

Jake Christiansen took the initial shot that appeared to get a tap from Brett Gallant in the slot for the first marker. The weak shot from the point marks the second straight game the Marlies started the game from behind.

After a 5-on-3 for nearly 90 seconds, the Marlies would tie the game near the midway mark of the first period when Brett Seney received the pass on the league’s 29th overall power play to connect the game 1-1.

And with a late momentum swing at the end of the first, the Marlies found the 2-1 lead. The play started with the youngster Alex Steeves making a beautiful entry into the slot, locating the puck to Curtis Douglas, who was sitting on the doorstep with his finger on the doorbell for his second of the season.

After the first intermission, you had to believe that there was a remarkable bit of momentum, sometimes carried by both, but that is not to say it was a complete period from Toronto. The Monsters opened the game strong and had the water pressure rising. For Cleveland, it was about starting that second period, the same way they started the first.

Jack Kopacka scored his first AHL goal in the tilt, where a beautifully timed pass from Pavel Gogolev. From the sideboards, Gogolev saw Kopacka’s turn indicators on when he made a right-on-red busting coming from behind the net to the front. Splitting lanes between two defenders, the pass found Kopacka for a 3-1 Marlies’ advantage.

The Marlies would notch their fourth tally near the end of the period. Gogolev was stationed near the side of the goal waiting for cookies, when he spotted the biscuit to put it over Tarasov.

But the Monsters would follow just moments later with a marker from Liam Foudy. Busting down the near boards, Foudy had time with the Marlies trailing to his left. The low-shot went far-side, glove-side to keep them within two.

Their late goal proved that the Monsters were down but not out. The middle frame had little spurts of dominance, which was refreshing to see from that squad. For the third, the Monsters needed to get back into the game early if they wanted to stay within reach – avoiding procrastinating to the end.

Getting out of the gate early was clearly the philosophy for the Monster, as Brendan Gaunce receives credit for his seventh just 23 seconds into the third.

That momentum gain would continue to march just north of five minutes later – as Carson Meyer was the next to find the net. Adam Helewka took the initial shot in the scramble. While it squeaked by Hutchinson, Meyer, positioned behind the net, shoveled the puck by to tie the game.

By this point, the Monster had tied the game in nearly six minutes of playing time – scoring three unanswered goals. The Marlies had a wound – and Cleveland knew that and dumped pucks onto Hutchinson.

But the Marlies found light when Steeves found a centering pass from Kristiāns Rubīns. Taking the puck from behind the net, Rubīns found the seem between chaos in front of the net for Steeves to redirect it to the net.

Trey Fix-Wolansky delivered a dirt backhand with the ball in the Monsters court that left Hutchinson staring blank. Centered between two defenders, Fix-Wolansky smacked an unpredictable backhand to the top shelf to tie the game.

Sunday’s overtime marks the fourth straight game the Marlies took things to extras.

The final result? A tip-in from Tyler Sikura in front of the net from a Christiansen. A well-executed power play in overtime was the straw that broke the Marlies back, in an overtime where they looked flat-footed.

Hutchinson faced an outstanding 47 shots through the matinee – with 28 responding from the Marlies. No doubt, the demise of the Marlies could have been their penalty killing, discipline, organization. The reality is that they were outplayed from a team that should have won by more and had over 20 more shots than you.

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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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