It’s been an up-and-down season for the Toronto Marlies so far.
The team currently sits just a hair over .500, sporting a 9-8-1 record and a +1 goal differential. A couple of unexpected players are having productive offensive years – including 27-year-old Hamilton, Ont. native Tyler Gaudet.
On the flip side of things, team goaltending has been abysmal. Marlies’ starters have collectively posted a 3.04 GAA and a .889 SV%. Numbers that are far from good enough.
Whether or not this team will make the playoffs remains to be seen. Strangely enough, the AHL playoff format for this season still hasn’t even be decided on.
But regardless of outcome, there have already been some moments that many won’t soon forget.
1) Scott Sabourin’s ‘Smashing’ Marlies Debut
Every player wants to have an immediate impact on their new team. Scott Sabourin only needed the first 23 seconds of his debut against the Laval Rocket to make that happen.
The impact he made was far more negative than positive, but it was certainly memorable. After catching up to a loose puck, Sabourin found himself on a partial breakaway as he gunned towards the Rocket netminder – Cayden Primeau.
In an alternate universe, Sabourin scores and all is well – but this is not that reality. Instead, the gritty AHL journeyman opted to absolutely lay out the goaltender with a bone-crushing hit.
From there, chaos ensued. Swedish forward Lukas Vejdemo, known as a skilled player, stood up for his goaltender in what was anything but a fair fight.
Vejdemo didn’t even want to officially drop the gloves (and didn’t) following the initial scuffle, but that didn’t stop Sabourin from dropping his own mitts and unleashing a barrage of punches.
Naturally, Sabourin was given a game misconduct and was immediately ejected.
— Nick Richard (@_NickRichard) March 13, 2021
2) Rich Clune Officially Named Captain
It was a move that didn’t surprise anyone. Rich Clune, who has been with the team since the 2015-16 season, was appointed captain – the ninth in Marlies franchise history.
Clune has never been known for his offence (at least, not since junior), but his influence on this team has been unmatched in recent years.
He’s a constant source of positive energy, both on and off the ice. His work ethic has always inspired his teammates, and he was especially influential during the Marlies’ 2018 Calder Cup Victory.
His charisma was also very apparent during the Calder Cup championship celebration held for family, friends, and fans of the team outside of Ricoh Coliseum – the Marlies’ home arena.
Multiple players gave speeches, but Rich’s really fired up the crowd. He’s simply a leader, through-and-through.
The fact that he’s a Toronto native doesn’t hurt, either.
Rich Clune forever.
New Toronto Marlies captain! pic.twitter.com/jbMXlmFXBX
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 1, 2021
3) Alex Galchenyuk Feeds Nick Robertson For A Beauty In AHL Debut
Life was a lot different back in 2012. Fauxhawks were cool, Coronavirus wasn’t terrorizing the world, and Alex Galchenyuk was thought of as a top-3, draft-eligible prospect.
Fast-forward nine years, and you’ll find that all of the aforementioned information has changed (no offence to those who still have fauxhawks. I’m sure you’re pulling it off to some extent, maybe…).
Despite putting up some solid campaigns throughout the first decade of his career, Gally (sorry Habs fans) hasn’t really lived up to the hype. Especially in recent years, as he’s become a bit of a suitcase.
Enter Kyle Dubas. After Galchenyuk went unclaimed on waivers, Dubas actually traded for him. The catch? He would then have to spend some time in the AHL – something he had never done before.
Luckily, Gally agreed. He knows his game has fallen off and frankly, he was probably just happy to hear that anyone still had a plan for him at all.
Galchenyuk’s AHL stint was brief yet positive as the 27-year-old recorded two goals and eight points in just six games. His first point was a beauty as well.
Already up 1-0, the Marlies headed to the powerplay. Gally held the puck along the right boards and surveyed his options. In the end, he found current top prospect Nick Robertson with a perfect pass and the young phenom tucked one home off the far post.
Now that’s a comeback.
Galchenyuk finds Robertson with a beautiful pass.
2-0 Marlies. pic.twitter.com/SoSXqr61UP
— Kevin Papetti (@KPapetti) March 2, 2021
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4) Joseph Woll Captures First Shutout Of The Season
Joseph Woll’s professional hockey career has unfortunately been quite mediocre so far.
Last season was his rookie year with the Marlies. Through 32 games, he had an 11-16-3 record to go along with a 3.75 GAA and an .880 SV%.
On the bright side, this isn’t uncommon for young backstoppers making the jump from junior or collegiate hockey. After all, goaltending has the most fickle, elongated development curve of all the positions.
This year hasn’t been anything to write home about either, but Woll has at least somewhat improved. Through five games, he has a 3-2 record with a 2.91 GAA and an .899 SV%.
Naturally, the Leafs and their fans are hoping that Woll will dramatically improve sooner, rather than later. He still looks to be at least 2-3 years away from NHL action, but recording a shutout is certainly a step in the right direction.
Another positive factor is Woll’s pedigree. He’s a former third-round pick (the Leafs took him in 2016) and for good reason. His resume includes three solid years at Boston College, including two all-star game appearances and an NCAA (Hockey East) Regular Season Championship.
He also had the highest GAA (1.34) and SV% (.947) of all goalies at the 2016 U18 WJC. Additionally, he has won a gold medal as well as two bronze medals for his country at junior hockey tournaments. The future still seems bright for the 22-year-old netminder.
⭐️ JOSEPH WOLL ⭐️
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) March 25, 2021
5) 4-In-1 Moment – Marlies Score Four Shorties In Just 18 Games
Anytime a player scores shorthanded, it’s a special moment for his team. There’s just something extra satisfying about completing a challenge at its highest difficulty – like beating a video game on the ‘Legendary’ setting.
Luckily, the Marlies have gotten to experience this feeling a handful of times this season. Four to be exact, and in only 18 games!
To put things in perspective, the Marlies only scored seven shorties throughout the entire duration of last season. They’re already over halfway there!
Of the four goals, two have been scored by Joey Anderson. A lot of eyes were on Anderson following his arrival from New Jersey. Mostly because he was dealt 1-for-1 in exchange for the Marlies’ 2018 Calder Cup MVP – Andreas Johnsson.
It was a move that many chalked up to a cap dump, but Anderson is still just 22 years old and has a pedigree of his own.
Through 18 games with the Marlies, the Roseville, Minn. native has six goals and nine points. He looked good at Leafs camp as well. He isn’t often talked about, but he definitely shouldn’t be slept on.
Kossila finds Joey Anderson shorthanded. The Marlies are flying tonight. pic.twitter.com/3qVMbPfCOH
— 𝔞𝔩𝔟𝔢𝔯𝔱𝔬 (@twistedleafs) <a