For the Toronto Marlies, last year’s playoffs had a bit of a different atmosphere. With the Maple Leafs out of the playoffs, the team was heavily focused on by fans, media, and the parent club alike. Last year’s team was filled with NHL talent; eight players (Matt Frattin, Jake Gardiner, Nazem Kadri, Joe Colborne, Ryan Hamilton, Mark Fraser, Colton Orr, and Ben Scrivens) are currently calling the Air Canada Centre their home. Ricoh Coliseum was full and loud, with fans looking for hockey to be excited about in the early spring months. Mainstream media that typically rolled their eyes at the AHL were around to see what was up. It was a unique situation, and an exciting one as the blue and white headed to the Calder Cup Finals before being swept by the Norfolk Admirals.
Despite a 3-0 loss to Abbotsford (that will be recapped and noted on Sunday, along with tonight’s game), the Toronto Marlies clinched a playoff spot last night.
The most absurd manufactured rivalry in professional hockey finally comes to a close, at least for this season. As I say almost every time, I understand that the Toronto Marlies used to the be the St. John’s Maple Leafs. That’s a cool bit of history. But these teams play in two different conferences. St. John’s isn’t much closer to Toronto than it is to Portugal. Nobody cares about the Winnipeg Jets, the Ice Caps sell out with our without the Marlies playing there, and this all adds up to an eight game season series.
Man, I hate the AHL schedule. You know what isn’t as hate-able though? Four points. Which is exactly what Toronto brought home this weekend.
Stuart Percy’s first pro goal, April 6 vs St. Johns
Spencer Abbott scores Toronto’s lone goal in a 4-1 loss
The Toronto Marlies have been an impressive team of late. After falling out of the North Division lead, their ten game homestead gave the team time to re-evaluate and build chemistry, and did so in spectacular fashion, winning seven of them. The momentum continued as the team left town, leading to eight straight games without a regulation loss. However, all good things must come to an end at some point, and that was the case tonight, as the blue and white fell 4-1 to the Rockford IceHogs.
Morgan Rielly scores his first professional goal.
It’s very rare for those in the hockey know around Toronto to agree on something. But, at this second, there is one subject that is an exception to this rule, and it’s Jake Gardiner. With nobody sure if the Leafs will continue their success and approximately fourteen thousand defenceman up on the current roster, everybody still has a critical need to see their promising young crown jewel back in the lineup. The question is simple; when does he come back up from the Toronto Marlies?