The Boxing Day classic played at the Air Canada Centre between the Marlies and the Bulldogs was made a success not only because of the Marlies win, but moreover the fan support. A crowd of over 18 thousand poured in the doors during the Holiday season and offered a glimpse of how great Toronto’s hockey fans are. While Hamilton that mark with their affiliate in Montreal this November, the tables were turned against them in December and the nation’s game was embraced by our province’s capital city in historical fashion. A great way to celebrate the season – with friends and family – all 18, 800 of them.
Think back to the end of November, for a moment. The Toronto Marlies entered their game in Rochester on the 30th of that month tied with the Americans in the standings at 19 points and sat in 4th place in the North Division. They had come off of three consecutive losses, each a tough battle that would keep them 9 points back of 1st place Abbotsford and their record at one game over 500. Toronto would record a victory in New York State that evening and it would prove to be the beginnings of a remarkable climb…..up. The Marlies would keep the ball rolling and win their first 3 games in the new month. As the club approaches their final 2 games of 2012, they have now won 8 in December and could record 10 wins out of 12 games played during the four weeks that conclude another year. The boys in blue and white are now 1st in the North Division and 2 points ahead of their next closest competitor; Abbotsford. They have stretched the differential between goals for and goals against to (+22) and have added 9 more wins to the total they rested at entering the final day of November and have picked up only one regulation loss since. Entering Grand Rapids off of 3 straight wins, another pair may just leave them 1st overall in the Western Conference by the time the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve…..what a December!
The Griffins, too, have won their last 3 straight contests and have achieved a climb in the standings, as well. They entered this year’s Christmas break 1st in their division for the first time since the 2005-2006 campaign. Grand Rapids hold 34 points, which is good enough to place them 3rd in the conference, just four points back of the Marlies entering this weekends play. Toronto is not the only concern for the Red Wings affiliate, however, so too are the Rockford Icehogs. The farm team of the Chicago Blackhawks shares the same point total as the Griffins at 34, but sits in the final playoff spot on the Western Conference. The two teams could be battling for the right to be on top of the division come December 31st when they go head to head for the final time in 2012. The games vs the Marlies may not have they once used to, but there is still a lot to play for.
Thanks for checking out the Pre Game Meal blog and stay tuned for next week’s edition that tees up Marlies action in the New Year!
Here is how to enjoy a pair of road games to end 2012…
Friday Dec 28th 7pm from Grand Rapids: TSN 1050 AM Radio
Saturday Dec 29th 7pm from Grand Rapids: TSN 1050 AM Radio