Calder Cup Finals Game 5: Marlies' Decisive Victory Sets the Stage for a Shot at the Cup on Home-Ice
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Saturday, June 9, 2018
Toronto (6) Texas (2) Final
Marlies leads the series 3-2.
With the Calder Cup Finals knotted at two-games apiece entering Saturday night’s highly anticipated Game 5 matchup, both Texas and Toronto resembled desperate teams battling it out to gain advantage atop the high ground in an undoubtedly critical point of the series.
In the wise words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, “It’s over, Texas. I have the high ground!”
On a brief side note, your lack of faith disturbs me if you failed to grasp that reference…. and that one…
Due to the unorthodox nature of a 2-3-2 home-ice playoff format, the Stars would effectively play their last home contest of the 2017-18 campaign in the comfort of their own H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Texas, regardless of the outcome. Combine this with the fact that each meeting has come down to a single goal making the difference, and it was a pivotal verdict.
Considering this was Texas’ third-straight game on home-ice, the Marlies were well acquainted with the hostility of the home crowd’s sea of green and their accompanying pleasantries.
According to head coach Sheldon Keefe, Toronto had a prime opportunity presented in front of themselves before heading back home,
“We’ve got a chance to get back at it on the road and then we’re heading home (for Game 6), great opportunity for our guys and we’re expecting a great effort from them here tonight.'
Marlies’ top-scorer, Andreas Johnsson, entered the night with points in back-to-back games after struggling to find his groove early on in the series, similar to his line-mates Miro Aaltonen and Carl Grundstrom. In the absence of their top-line, several key cogs in Toronto’s well-oiled machine, namely Trevor Moore, captain Ben Smith, and former Star Chris Mueller, among others, had helped balance the load with the absence of their top-line.
In an unexpected turn of events, Travis Dermott would miss the game with an undisclosed injury.
As a team, Toronto relied on scoring by committee but their top-guns were able to break the ice early and often.
Toronto opened the game with two goals from their top scorers, as both Andreas Johnsson and Trevor Moore scored in succession to give the visiting team a 2-0 advantage in the opening frame.
For reference, the Marlies were looking to uphold their 27-0-0-1 record when scoring the first two goals of the game, a fairly flawless stat line.
The second frame saw Texas get on the board with a strike from the point by Gavin Bayreuther, however, that would only last until the Marlies responded with four-straight tallies to effectively silence the home crowd.
Colin Greening notched his 4th tally of the playoffs to restore Toronto’s two-goal lead to make it 3-1 and subsequently kickstarted their offensive outbreak.
An unsung hero emerged from the back-end as Calle Rosen exploded for two highlight-worthy goals against Mike McKenna to close out the second period.
The first saw Andreas Johnsson enter the zone with speed before pulling up along the boards to locate his trailing teammates. Enter, Calle Rosen, who flew into the zone and received a feed from Johnsson in-stride before stickhandling his way through several defenders and finishing the play with a pretty looking goal to increase Toronto’s lead to three.
As the frame wound down, Rosen was back it again and made his mark with another spectacular rush up-ice to beat McKenna for his second tally of the evening. The talented rearguard made his way through the neutral zone unscathed before his teammates joined his side, however, they were only a diversion as Rosen continued his path to the net and easily put it past McKenna.
With a 5-1 lead in their back pocket, the Marlies enjoyed a stress-free intermission before Carl Grundstrom broke through for his first point of the series, his 7th goal of the playoffs.
At this point, the Stars were desperate to break through and counter but only managed to secure a single tally in their efforts, courtesy of Sheldon Dries—his 9th tally of the post-season. It proved to be too little, too late for Texas, as the Marlies convincingly captured the high ground and took a 3-2 series lead in the process.
The final score read 6-2 and accurately depicted Toronto’s triumph in Texas—but only until the series shifts back to Ricoh Coliseum for Game 6 on Tuesday night. Toronto will have an opportunity to close out the series and take home their first Calder Cup Trophy as a franchise, in front of yet another sold-out crowd.
Puck drop is set at 7:00 p.m. EST.
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E-mail - gordon@BarnBurner.ca
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Photo Credit: @TorontoMarlies