Toronto Marlies Game Recap - March 23, 2019
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Toronto Marlies (2) - Rochester Americans (5)
Photo credit: @TorontoMarlies
TORONTO - The Rochester Americans seem to have the Toronto Marlies’ number this season.
A record-breaking night for Jeremy Bracco, but Victor Olofsson netted two goals, his 26th and 27th of the year, including his league-leading ninth game-winning goal (tied with teammate Zach Redmond), to help the Americans to a 5-2 win.
Bracco, in his sophomore year, broke the franchise record for most assists in a single season with 53.
“It’s special,” said Bracco post-game, “…it’s a credit to the guys I play with, obviously an assist, you don’t put it in the net, another guy’s got to put it in.”
A great moment for Bracco, but perhaps bitter sweet due to his team’s loss.
On night one of a back-to-back between these division rivals, the Americans marched into Coca-Cola Coliseum on Saturday up 3-1 in the season series. The last time these clubs met was also a back-to-back in January, when they traded 5-1 victories.
A potential first round playoff opponent, the Marlies sat three points behind Rochester in the North Division heading into this one.
You could tell the tension was high early when Tom Sestito and CJ Smith dropped the gloves mid-way through the first. Both landed a few swings and the crowd of 7000 was hyped.
The Marlies opened the scoring on just their second shot of the game. A fantastic, falling effort by Timothy Liljegren got the puck over to Bracco, the AHL’s leader in assists, who found Chris Mueller in front to make it 1-0 Toronto.
His team-leading 29th goal of the campaign, Mueller extended his point streak to eleven games.
Toronto’s lead didn’t last long. Remi Elie tied it at one and two minutes into the second period, Kyle Criscuolo made it 2-1 Rochester. Elie, Criscuolo, and Jack Dougherty made a deadly 1-2-3 combo for both of those goals.
Nicholas Baptiste, playing against his former team, notched his first in a Marlies uniform to tie the game at two, but it was all Americans after that.
Three unanswered goals for the visitors, two of them by Olofsson, assisted by Danny O’Regan, both beautiful wrist shots, wide open in front of Michael Hutchinson.
Hutchinson was 8-1-1 in his last ten starts, with six straight wins. He made 27 saves, but was handed his seventh loss of the season, despite looking steady throughout most of the contest.
On the other end, Ontario native Scott Wedgewood made 23 saves for his 26th win. Both goaltenders were tested often in the final frame. Shots were 17-14, in favour of the Americans.
Toronto had some good chances throughout this one, but Head Coach Sheldon Keefe made note that Rochester came to play.
“I didn’t feel the game was tight in any way. They were clearly the better team all throughout the game, we were able to survive.”
Keefe added, “we want to have a better effort, but that’s a good hockey team… I wouldn’t call it frustrating, I just think that it’s a sign that despite the fact we’ve been getting points, our play isn’t where it needs to be, and we need to find another level and find another gear.”
Game two between the Toronto Marlies and Rochester Americans goes Sunday at 5pm. Honorary guest, three-time Olympian and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Cassie Campbell will drop the puck in a ceremonial face-off to celebrate women’s hockey.
3. ROC - #40 Remi Elie
2. ROC - #65 Danny O’Regan
1. ROC - #12 Victor Olofsson