The Toronto Marlies took four of a possible six points from divisional rivals this week.
Toronto continues to lead the North Division with a 7-3-0 record and owns the best defensive record (2.3GAA) among their rivals. Crucially, the Marlies improved to 4-1 when facing divisional foes — a record that’ll be tested at the end of the road-trip when they face Binghamton on consecutive nights.
Special teams have been a work in progress since opening weekend and Toronto is beginning to see the fruits of their labour. The power play netted thrice on 19 opportunities despite going scoreless on seven occasions against Syracuse, while the Marlies penalty kill held firm, albeit with a great deal of help from Garret Sparks early in the game against Syracuse.
Also encouraging is that the team showed improved discipline, allowing just a combined five extra-man opportunities for Laval across the two games.
- Garret Sparks hoists Toronto Marlies to gutsy road win in Syracuse
- Toronto Marlies fall in inaugural matchup versus Laval
– Garret Sparks had himself an exceptional week, beginning with 29 saves in the victory over Syracuse. He followed that up by turning aside all 18 shots faced against Laval, setting a Toronto Marlies franchise record with the eleventh shutout of his career in the process.
Sparks is tied for first place among AHL goaltenders with five victories and is third in save percentage (.942). His 5-1 start to the season is easily the best of his AHL career thus far. At the moment, he is the clear number-one choice for the Marlies.
– A three-goal week for Colin Greening takes his seasonal tally to four in 10 games.
– Andreas Johnsson also potted three goals after returning from action following the benching by Sheldon Keefe. There is still no word on why Johnsson missed game-time, but he’s been terrific in the past week regardless and could have had a hat-trick in the victory over Laval.
– After a slow start to the season, Chris Mueller is starting to heat up and is now fifth in Marlies scoring (1-5-6). He’s currently riding a four-game point streak and scored his first goal in Toronto colours on the power play in the first game vs. Laval.
– Mason Marchment continued his impressive start to his sophomore year with a goal and two assists this week. He leads Marlies rookies in scoring with six points (4-2-6) and is ranked 13th overall in the AHL among first-year players (Marchment still considered a rookie as he hadn’t played 25 or more NHL/AHL combined games before the 2017-18 season.)
– Nikita Soshnikov continues to lead Toronto in shots (27 in nine games) but failed to find the net in the past week. He did, however, contribute three primary assists and was excellent on both sides of special teams. Soshnikov is the Marlies’ joint-leading scorer with Ben Smith (eight points) and has a team-leading six assists.
– Miro Aaltonen finally got the monkey off his back with his first AHL goal vs. Syracuse.
– Calle Rosen made his Marlies debut and registered an assist on debut. The Swedish defenseman experienced some ups and downs during the last three games but he’s acquitted himself well for the most part. Sheldon Keefe gave the rookie power play time and he adapted well to the task at hand.
– Timothy Liljegren had probably his worst game defensively against Syracuse and was a healthy scratch the following day. He bounced back in the Laval midweek game with a very sound performance.
– Sticking with the rookie watch, Adam Brooks is beginning to grow in confidence and is becoming more of an offensive threat with each passing game. He’s got just the one assist to show for his efforts thus far, but he looks on the verge of a breakthrough.
– Jeremy Bracco has been used sparingly as Toronto look to build him up physically to cope with the demands of the professional game. The same formula was used with Mason Marchment last season, and that’s working out rather well right now for the player and team.
– Kasimir Kaskisuo was loaned to Chicago Wolves but found life tough in new surroundings in his first two games. Defeats to Manitoba and Grand Rapids saw the goaltender give up a combined seven goals on 66 shots. However, Kaskisuo bounced back to post a 33-save shutout against Grand Rapids in a 2-0 Chicago victory.
– Defenseman Sam Jardine has been signed to an AHL contract. I can only surmise that there has been interest expressed from other clubs outside the ECHL and Toronto did not want to lose the 24-year-old blue liner. He’s now back with Orlando.
– Training camp invitee Mackenzie Skapski has been signed to an AHL contract and loaned to the Orlando Solar Bears. The 23-year-old goaltender was a free agent who has experience at the NHL, AHL and ECHL levels (previously a New York Rangers prospect).
– The only other movement this week involved Kasperi Kapanen, who was recalled by the Leafs. Coming back the other way is Eric Fehr, who cleared waivers and is now officially on the Marlies roster (will wear #23).
Orlando Solar Bears News
– A frustrating week for the Solar Bears saw them take just a single point from three games, despite holding the lead twice in two of those games. The only real pluses were that the power play finally produced (4/13) and they heavily out-shot Atlanta in back-to-back games but ran into hot goaltenders.
– Scoring was shared around and a whole host of players recorded three points. Joshua Winquist was one of those (1-2-3), as were Chris Crane and Nolan Valleau, who lead Orlando in scoring with seven and six points, respectively.
– J.J. Piccinich made his comeback from injury and registered two assists, while Max Novak found the net for the first time this season.
– Cal Heeter was given all three starts, allowing a combined 12 goals, although by all accounts his play deserved better. In other goaltending news, the Solar Bears signed Jonah Imoo from the Evansville Thunderbolts.