MacMaster's third period goal extends Marlies' winning streak to four with a 4-3 victory over Bears
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Toronto victory at Coca-Cola Coliseum was the first win on home ice against Hershey since Feb. 2013
Tanner MacMaster’s gorgeous power-play goal with 1:18 remaining in the second period put an exclamation mark on another high-scoring night for the Toronto Marlies, as they defeated the Hershey Bears 4-3 on Wednesday night.
MacMaster’s eventual winning goal helped Toronto regain a two-goal lead on their third power play of the game. Winger Pontus Aberg took control of the puck along the half boards and fed the puck to a streaking McMaster in the slot, who deked to his backhand and put the puck through Copley’s five-hole for the 4-2 lead.
With four goals, Toronto’s (4-0-0-0) offence is now the highest-scoring in the AHL, having scored 19 through four games.
Despite starting the season with four straight victories, head coach Sheldon Keefe is not happy with his team's play thus far.
Jeremy Bracco, Adam Brooks, and Kenny Agostino each recorded two points in the contest.
Hershey (2-2-1-0) had their two-game win streak snapped with the loss.
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby scored two goals for Hershey, each time bringing the Bears to within a goal.
Agostino gave the Marlies a 1-0 lead at 5:55 of the first period, taking a beautiful cross-ice pass from Bracco on an odd-man rush and wristing the puck over the shoulder of Bears’ goaltender Vitek Vanecek.
It was Agostino's first goal in his first full game with the Marlies after being injured in the season opener on October 5th.
"It felt good to get it out of the way quickly," said Agostino outside the locker room post-game. "Not the start I wanted a few weeks ago but happy to be back."
The Marlies were able to quickly take advantage 10 seconds into their first power play of the game when Bracco threw a puck at the net from the point, where an uncovered Egor Korshkov was waiting for the easy tip-in, giving Toronto a 2-0 lead at 10:17 of the first.
Korshkov continued his torrid start to the season, scoring his fourth goal in four games. Bracco’s second assist of the game tied him for the AHL points lead with six.
After another aggressive opening period, the Marlies have now outscored opponents 7-2 in the first period this season.
"We're a skilled team and we have some players that are opportunistic," said Keefe when asked about his team's quick starts.
Hershey cut the lead in half with 1:29 remaining in the first period, when Liam O’Brien attempted a cross-crease pass that ricocheted off of Marlies’ defenceman Timothy Liljegren’s stick and past Kasimir Kaskisuo for his first of the season.
The Marlies responded 1:20 into the second when Adam Brooks was sent in alone by Jordan Schmaltz and slid the puck under Vanecek for his first goal of the season, giving Toronto a 3-1 lead.
The goal prompted Bears coach Spencer Carbery to pull Vanecek and insert backup Pheonix Copley.
Hershey nearly responded a minute later but were robbed by Kaskisuo when the 26-year-old slid across the crease to stop Christian Djoos on an attempted one-timer.
With 9:14 left in the second, the Bears did manage to sneak another puck past Kaskisuo in nearly identical fashion to their first goal.
Jonsson-Fjallby attempted a centering pass that bounced off the stick of Rasmus Sandin in front of the net and past the Toronto goalie to cut the lead to 3-2.
The Bears’ right-winger brought Hershey within one with his second goal of the game at 4:52 of third. Jonsson-Fjallby was the only Hershey skater to record multiple points.
Kaskisuo (3-0-0) kept his perfect record intact, stopping 21 shots for the victory. Copley (1-1-1) made 12 saves in relief of Vanecek but took the loss despite allowing just one goal.
With their points, Korshkov, Aberg, and Schmaltz extended their season-long point streak to four games.
Toronto will next play on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. EDT against the Cleveland Monsters, who the Marlies swept in last season's North Division finals.