Calder Cup Finals Game 3: Marlies Secure 2-1 Series Lead on the Back of Calle Rosen's Game-Winning Blast
Toronto (2) Texas (1) Final
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Marlies lead the series 2-1
Tuesday marked Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals as the gripping series shifted south from Toronto to the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Texas, home of the high-flying Stars.
After splitting two initial games on home ice, the Marlies entered the night looking to regain the series lead without a sold-out crowd of supporters behind them. In fact, they would be entering hostile territory within a sea of green cheering for their opposition.
It is important to note that due to the 2-3-2 home format of the series, Toronto has to tolerate Texas’ weather for three straight contests, and, if necessary, would return home for Game 6 at the earliest.
If the Marlies are to find sustained success while on the road, Miro Aaltonen’s line in between Andreas Johnsson and Carl Grundstrom, which had been held pointless as a unit throughout Games 1 and 2, desperately needs to start clicking.
Despite a need for top-six offence, the pressure was still on for depth players on either side to make a heroic contribution in their own right.
Following a scoreless opening frame, it was the Stars who struck just 0:55 seconds in to begin a flurry of second-period goals. Sheldon Dries recorded the ice-breaker after finding open ice down the boards, where he took full advantage of the skating lane before stunning Garret Sparks with a shot up and over his glove hand.
With the crowd’s momentum on their side, it appeared Texas was poised to break-out offensively… but not if the Marlies had anything to say about it.
A familiar face to the home crowd in Chris Mueller, who won the Calder Cup as a member of the Stars in 2014, quickly notched the equalizer for Toronto just three minutes later. Ben Smith won a puck battle along the side-boards in order to find Andreas Johnsson, who turned around and located Mueller with a back-door feed. Once in his possession, the eventual goal-scorer simply had to find the net with Mike McKenna scrambling out of position.
Later in the same frame, Toronto struck once again to take a 2-1 advantage past the midway point of the second. Calle Rosen walked the blue line before unleashing a seeing-eye wrist shot into traffic, which somehow found its way through a plethora of bodies before eventually finding the back of the net.
An absolute dagger which proved to be the game-winner.
Trevor Moore picked up a primary assist on the play, his 10th of the playoffs, moving him into a tie for the team-lead with Andreas Johnsson and Chris Mueller.
Subsequently, the officiating has been notoriously inconsistent throughout the playoffs and this series in particular, so it came as no surprise that the game’s first infraction to be penalized did not occur until late in the third period when Timothy Liljegren was (blatantly) hauled down by Curtis McKenzie.
For the third time in three games so far this series, a warranted “refs, you suck!” chant had erupted within the arena.
As time wound down to zero’s across the board, the score remained stagnant at 2-1 in favour of Toronto despite a valiant push made by the Stars throughout the final twenty minutes of regulation time.
Texas will have to wait for their revenge as Game 4 is not set to go until June 7th on Thursday night, with puck drop at 8:00 p.m. EST.
Frederik Gauthier exited the game with an upper-body injury partway through the second period, he was seen favouring his left shoulder after taking a hit along the boards. He will be re-evaluated before Game 4.
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Photo Credit: @TorontoMarlies