Toronto vs San Antonio - Spencer Abbot, Mike Kostka, Ryan Hamilton, Keith Aucoin

I usually have some sort of fancy opening relating hockey to life, or to the time of year, or perhaps just a few words attempting wit. Today all I’m going to open with is 7-2-1-0.

That is the Marlies record over the last ten games. At the moment it’s the second best in the league. By the end of the day, a win could bring the team the league’s best record over the past ten as well as the division’s top spot. Abbotsford, who presently hold the first place spot in the North division, have managed only three wins in the last ten outings.

It’s the team’s last game before the Christmas break. They face a St. John’s team who lost only to Norfolk – the eventual Calder Cup champions – in a tremendous playoff run in their first year in Newfoundland. It’s the last game of 2012 at Ricoh Coliseum (the team’s one remaining home game will be played at ACC) and despite injuries, the Marlies have found another gear in which you can be sure they want to continue traveling in.

It’s almost precisely one year since St. John’s first visited Ricoh Coliseum. Here are my notes ahead of the game:

  • Jake Gardiner (upper), Nazem Kadri (lower) and Mike Zigomanis (upper) remain out of the lineup of various ailments
  • Mike Kostka continues his incredible point streak as the defenceman now has nine over the past seven games, propelling him to the fourth most assists in the league
  • Holding down the third place for assists this season, Keith Aucoin is only one point away from tying the league’s 10th all-time scoring record of 804 points
  • Ryan Hamilton, who became the team’s all-time goal scoring leader on Friday, is five points shy of scoring more more than any Marlies captain prior
  • After a streak that saw St. John’s lose five straight, the club has now won three of their last four
  • IceCaps rear guard Derek Meech leads the league with three game winning goals as a defenceman
  • Meech has strung together four points over the past four straight games
  • St. John’s has only a single player with more than 15 points, the Marlies have three over 20

There are many ways which you can tune into Saturday’s game. Catch the action on Rogers TV as Jon Abbott and Bob McGill call all the action. The Marlies duo will also be featured over the airwaves (for all of you driving in your car or sitting in front of the transistor radio) as TSN 1050 continues their unparalleled Marlies coverage. If internet’s more your thing, tune in on AHL Live where the audio feed is always free, and video costs only a few dollars.

As a heads up, the team’s annual Boxing Day game is held at Air Canada Centre on Wednesday as the Marlies take on AHL rival Hamilton. The game starts at one, and a whole lot of happy people will walk away with Mike Zigomanis bobbleheads. If you can’t make it down, the game will be broadcast nation wide on SportsNet One.

As always, catch me on twitter (@chansler) where I’ll provide lineup news and notes as they become available.

EXPECTED MARLIES LINEUP

IN GOAL: #30 Ben Scrivens

FOWARD LINES
Hamilton – Aucoin – Abbott
Ashton – Colborne – Frattin
D’Amigo – Acton – Scott
Ross – Ryan – Deschamps

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Ranger – Kostka
Fraser – Holzer
Gysbers – Blacker

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