The Marlies offense exploded for seven goals in Friday night’s season opener, making a statement to start off the year.
It was only the third time the Marlies have started the season on the road and they were in hostile territory, facing off against the same Utica Comets that forced last year’s North Division Semifinals to five games.
Reid Boucher scored an early marker for the Comets, capitalizing on a power play opportunity less than a minute into regulation. That would stand as the only goal of the opening frame with Kasimir Kaskisuo standing tall in the Marlies net, making 14 stops in the first alone.
Marlies Score Four in Succession in Second
Jordan Subban, making his return to Utica for the first time, tied the game just 50 seconds into the middle frame as he blasted a shot from the blueline for his first as a Marlie. Adam Cracknell had an assist for his first point as a Marlie and Pierre Engvall collected the other helper.
Five minutes later, Engvall scored top shelf off a rush into the offensive zone to give the Marlies the lead. Subban and Calle Rosen earned the assists on that one.
Rosen came up with another assist less than two minutes after that, feeding Timothy Liljegren at the top of the circle. Liljegren walked in and spotted a shot through a small opening to extend the lead to 3-1. Chris Mueller had the secondary assist.
Trevor Moore added a fourth straight for the Marlies at the 14:04 mark of the second, capitalizing on a breakaway after Andreas Borgman stripped the puck off Utica’s Jalen Chatfield in the neutral zone and sent Moore in all alone.
With under two minutes remaining in the period, Utica was back on the power play and Zack MacEwen scored as the Comets converted for the second time.
Marlies Add Three in the Third
Utica pulled the game back to within one just 3:09 into the final frame as Boucher scored his second of the night for the Comets. They kept it close until just before the midway mark in the third, when Carl Grundstrom ripped a shot top shelf from the sideboards and reinstated the two-goal lead.
Back on the penalty kill in the final four minutes of the game, Cracknell stole the puck behind the Utica net and found Moore in the slot, who deked the last defender and goaltender Richard Bachman for his second goal of the game.
Josh Jooris added another shorthanded goal into the empty net 33 seconds later and that sealed the 7-3 victory for Toronto. Colin Greening had the lone helper on Jooris’ first as a Marlie.
Kaskisuo earned the win between the pipes and turned aside 43 shots in the contest. It
The power play went 1-for-5 in the game while the penalty kill was successful on 4-of-6 shorthanded situations, including a pair of goals while down a man.
The Marlies now head southwest to Binghamton as they prepare to face the Devils on Saturday night before returning home for the Calder Cup banner raising on Monday.
GAME SUMMARY | GAME SHEET
Utica: R. Boucher (1) PP (Z. MacEwen, T. MacMaster), Z. MacEwen (1) PP (J. Dahlen, T. Kero), R. Boucher (2) (T. MacMaster, A. Sautner)
Goaltender: R. Bachman (32/38)
Toronto: J. Subban (1) PP (P. Engvall, A. Cracknell), P. Engvall (1) (J. Subban, C. Rosen), T. Liljegren (1) (C. Rosen, C. Mueller), T. Moore (1) (A. Borgman), C. Grundstrom (1) (Unassisted), T. Moore (2) SH (A. Cracknell), J. Jooris (1) EN SH (C. Greening)
Goaltender: K. Kaskisuo (43/46)
FROM THE SCORESHEET
- Jordan Subban registered the Marlies’ first goal of the 2018-19 season on the power play 50 seconds into the second period and added the primary assist on Engvall’s second period goal. Subban split last season between the Utica Comets and the Ontario Reign, recording 13 points (4 goals, 9 assists).
- Pierre Engvall scored at 5:49 of the second period and earlier added the primary assist on Subban’s goal. Engvall registered eight points (4 goals, 4 assists) in nine games with the Toronto Marlies last season.
- Timothy Liljegren scored Toronto’s third goal of the game at 7:21 of the second period. Liljegren had 17 points (1 goal, 16 assists) in 44 games last season with the Marlies.
- Trevor Moore scored twice against Utica, with his first goal at 14:04 of the second period and his second goal shorthanded at 16:18 of the third period. Moore registered 33 points (12 goals, 21 assists) in 68 regular season games with the Marlies.
- Carl Grundstrom scored unassisted at 9:47 of the third period. Grundstrom appeared in two games for the Marlies in the 2017-18 regular season, recording three points (1 goal, 2 assists).
- Josh Jooris scored his first as a Marlie shorthanded on the empty net at 16:51 of the third period.
- Adam Cracknell recorded the primary assist on Subban’s first period power play goal and the lone assist on Moore’s third period shorthanded goal.
- Calle Rosen registered the secondary assist on Engvall and Liljegren’s second period goals. Rosen had 18 assists last season with the Marlies.
- Chris Mueller had the secondary assist on Liljegren’s second period goal. Mueller led the Marlies in assists (33) last season.
- Andreas Borgman recorded the lone assist on Moore’s second period goal.
- Colin Greening had the lone assist on Jooris’ empty net goal. Greening registered 29 points (16 goals, 13 assists) in 73 games last season with the Marlies.
- Kasimir Kaskisuo stopped 43 of 46 shots. Kaskisuo is now 1-0-0-0 on the season with a .935 Save Percentage and a 3.02 Goals Against Average.
- Toronto went 4-for-6 on the penalty kill and 1-for-5 on the power play.
- Utica had a 46-39 edge in shots in all situations.
- Calle Rosen led the Marlies with five shots on goal.
- The Marlies are 1-0-0-0 against North Division opponents and 1-0-0-0 against the Utica Comets.
- Toronto has scored the most goals (7) in a season opener in the history of the franchise.
REGULAR SEASON LEADERS
Goals: T. Moore (2)
Assists: A. Cracknell, C. Rosen (2)
Points: A. Cracknell, P. Engvall, T. Moore, C. Rosen, J. Subban (2)
PPG: J. Subban (1)
Shots: C. Rosen (5)
+/-: C. Rosen (+5)
PIMS: C. Grundstrom (4)
HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE
On tonight’s game:
It was sloppy. We gave up too many chances, too many shots, just took too many penalties. We knew full well coming in that this wasn’t going to be a masterpiece here today. It’s the first game. We’ve, frankly, only had one practice as a group. It’s been kind of a strange week for us to this point. But just the fact that we were able to persevere through a lot of different things here. Obviously, it’s on the back of very strong goaltending from Kas. Credit to him. The guys stuck with it. They competed, they worked and they found a way to win a hockey game. The good news is we’ve got a whole lot of room for improvement.
On Trevor Moore:
It really clicked for him towards the end of the season and certainly into the playoffs. He’s continued that here now. His confidence has risen high. He believes in himself and he knows this is a big year for him. He is an important piece of our team. To see him come through and play the way that he did today is a real good sign for both him and us.
On concerns through the opening weekend:
We just try to clean up a few things. It’s going to take some time. I don’t know if concern is the right word at this point. We just know going in that it’s going to be a work in progress here, it’s going to take us some time to really get as organized as we want to be and for people to settle into their roles and get comfortable playing with one another. Our special teams, getting that kind of stuff sorted out. It’s going to take us a little time here but we want to prepare as best we can and be as organized as we can and be as competitive as we can to give us every opportunity we can to get through this weekend. Once we do that, we’ll get some opportunity to practice and things will settle in next week for us.
On the shorthanded goal:
Cracks made a great play, made a great forecheck up ice. It seems to be something we’re going to try to do this year is get down ice and try to disrupt breakouts. He made a great play and then I just took what was available to me.
On concerns addressed after the first period:
We drew a lot off of last year. Not a lot of panic in our game, we’re going to play the same. We knew the first period wasn’t our cleanest but we just knew, just keep working, stay above guys. We knew it was going to be hectic, they have a good team so just keep pushing through.
October 6 at Binghamton – 7:05 p.m. ET
October 8 vs Cleveland – 3:00 p.m. ET
October 13 vs Utica – 4:00 p.m. ET
October 14 vs Utica – 4:00 p.m. ET
October 19 at Rochester – 7:05 p.m. ET
The Toronto Marlies kick off the new season Friday night in Utica, looking to start on a high note as their defence of last year’s Calder Cup champion kicks off.
It’s the third straight year the Marlies have opened the season against the Comets, but the first time they’ve done so in Utica. These two sides last faced off in the North Division Semifinals, where the Marlies won the series with a 4-0 Game 5 victory.
Familiar Faces Look To Build On Last Year’s Success
There have been changes on both sides in the months since then. Though the opening night roster includes 17 players who suited up for the Marlies last year, five Marlies from the North Division Semifinals series have joined the Maple Leafs this season, creating room for more Marlies to make an impact when the season starts out tonight.
Chris Mueller, who finished second in team scoring last season, will look to keep that offensive production rolling into this year, as will Dmytro Timashov, Trevor Moore, Jeremy Bracco, Colin Greening, Mason Marchment and Andrew Nielsen – all players who finished in the top 10 for points on the Marlies last season.
New Additions Ready To Debut
The Marlies have also brought in some new additions to the team who will bring additional experience and leadership to the group, including Adam Cracknell, Sam Gagner, Josh Jooris and Jeff Glass.
The Adirondack Bank Center will be a familiar rink for another pair of new Marlies. Jordan Subban played for the Comets over the past three seasons while Emerson Clark played in a pair of games for Utica in the 2016-17 season.
Changes To The Comets
At the other end, Utica have seen some changes since the playoffs ended, as well. All-star goaltender Thatcher Demko starts the season on the injured reserve. Michael Chaput, who was second in Comets’ scoring last season, made the move to Montreal, defenceman Patrick Wiercioch has left the organization and Nikolay Goldobin is starting the season in Vancouver.
The Comets will be looking to Reid Boucher, Zack McEwen and Michael Carcone to build on their strong seasons last year and help fill those gaps.
How To Tune In Tonight
Puck drop for tonight’s game is set for 7:00 and fans can tune in on AHLTV, available for free preview all weekend long!
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