The Leafs-Marlies connections continue this week, as we look at a pair of former Marlies who are now having a great start to the NHL season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Leo Komarov scored his 1st NHL goal in Montreal and it acted as the game winner for the Leafs. After being drafted by Toronto in 2006, honing his game in the KHL and then breaking into North America with the Marlies, it has been a long wait for Komarov to even break into the NHL and so a huge congrats to Leo on his goal on the 9th of February.
The other connection to this year’s Marlies team is Mike Kostka. The 27 year old native of Ajax, Ontario also realized his NHL dreams “later” in life. It was back in 2004, however, in which a short term dream would be achieved. Mike was playing for the Aurora Tigers and was part of a team that would cap a dream season with a RBC Cup championship. The Tigers will honour Mike this week and Leafs TV will be there to bring you coverage of the event. Congrats, Mike, on sticking with your dream and your achievements from the days in Aurora and moving forward.
The Marlies once again went through changes to their roster this week. It also brought the total of Marlies to play with the Leafs this season to 10. Jussi Rynnas is the most recent to be recalled by the Leafs and a goaltender spot was left vacant at the AHL level. Enter: Drew MacIntyre. Toronto’s hockey staff once again came through in the clutch, picking up a veteran goaltender. MacIntyre, although coming out of the KHL and ECHL prior, has a wealth of experience at the AHL level. Of his 7 seasons of play leading into this one, 3 of those included playoff runs with double digit games. He has also played in a variety of markets, including Manitoba and the P.E.I boy is happy to return to Canada and do so in hockey’s mecca – Toronto.
With MacIntyre, the Marlies will aim to improve their goals against. Hearing a great line from the coaching staff a few times this season, the best way to do that – play in the other team’s zone for most of the game. So, Toronto will be trying to crank up the puck possession time and hopefully the offence, too, come Saturday and Monday vs Hershey and Houston.
Hershey enters a wounded bear, having dropped their last two hockey games. The Bears have managed to stay in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference, though, largely due to scrapping out points. Of their last 15 games, 9 have gone to overtime or shootout. The chocolate bears have played in 13 extra time games this season, picking up 6 wins. Altogether Hershey have played in 29 (1) goal finishes this year and their last 7 straight games have been decided that way. Jon Disalvatore enters leading the club in goals and has 3 points over his last 3 games. Disalvatore collected his 500th career point vs Toronto in what was a 4-2 Hershey win earlier this season. He will be one player to key in on for the Marlies.
Houston enter Saturday and Sunday play off of 4 straight wins. The Aeros are above the Marlies in the standings, but only by 5 points, while Toronto has 5 games in hand. This is a crucial family day matchup to gain some ground on one of Toronto’s Western Conference rivals. In their last meeting Houston was out to a 4-2 lead, only to cue a Marlie comeback with 4 straight 3rd period goals. The game would also act as a catalyst for Toronto, beginning a Texas sweep and one of their season high 4 game win streaks. Justin Fontaine has 7 points in his last 7 games and is trailing only their super rookie (Jason Zucker) in that category.
If you can’t make it to the games at Ricoh this weekend, please tune into Bob Mcgill and I with the broadcast. The game Saturday at 3pm vs Hershey can be found on your AM radio dial at TSN 1050 Toronto and on local cable on Rogers TV.
Monday’s family day game is available only on local cable Rogers TV with a 1pm start time.
Thanks for reading another Pre Game Meal. I hope it get’s you fired up for this weekend’s Marlies action!