Hutchinson makes 31 saves, Agostino scores overtime-winner as Marlies win first game without Keefe
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Marlies (2) - Rocket (1) OT
Kenny Agostino’s goal with 24 seconds left in overtime gave the Toronto Marlies the 2-1 victory over the Laval Rocket in their first game without Sheldon Keefe behind the bench.
After being outplayed for most of the overtime period, Agostino took matters into his own hands, skating in on two Rocket defenders before making a spin move on defenceman Gustav Olafsson and firing it into the net to end the game.
Earlier in the day, the Marlies found out that they had lost Keefe, as their former bench boss was promoted to be Mike Babcock’s replacement as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Michael Hutchinson has played for both coaches this season and has no doubts that Keefe will find success at the highest level.
“I'm really excited for Sheldon. He's an amazing coach, his preparation every day, his attention to detail. The way he sees the game is very different than anything I’ve been around before,” said Hutchinson in his post-game scrum.
“The way Sheldon was coaching here, the positives will translate to the NHL level. Every day I come to the rink and I learn something new.”
Keefe was hired as head coach of the Marlies in 2015 and coached the team to their first Calder Cup in 2018. He leaves the team with 199 AHL wins as head coach.
Scott Pooley also scored for Toronto (11-2-2-1) who won their fourth straight game and remain undefeated at the Coca Cola Coliseum.
Hutchinson stopped 32 shots in the victory and credited his team for dictating the pace and coming through with the victory.
“I thought we did a great job. We controlled the puck and we didn't force too many things,” said Hutchinson. “I thought we did a great job being patient and waiting for our opportunities tonight.”
Matthew Peca scored the only goal for Laval (10-6-3-0) who have lost three of their last four games following a six-game win streak.
Charlie Lindgren made 19 saves in the loss.
Assistant coaches A.J. MacLean and Rob Davison handled coaching duties on Wednesday without Keefe. Defenceman Timothy Liljegren, who recorded an assist on Agostino’s winner, already has full confidence in the pair to lead the team.
“[They] bring a lot of energy and get the boys going every day,” said Liljegren. “They’ve done a good job with the defence and the forwards, so they'll do a great job as head coaches.”
Following the game, MacLean praised Keefe for his work in bringing out the best in his staff and players and describes the legacy he leaves with his AHL club.
“The attention to detail in every matter, whether it’s our travel or our play on the ice,” said MacLean. “No stone goes unturned. Make sure that everything matters. That would be his legacy.”
The Marlies play game four of their five-game homestand on Saturday evening in the first game of a back-to-back against the Manitoba Moose. Toronto has a 2-0 record against Manitoba this season.