While the Toronto Maple Leafs did poorly this year, the Toronto Marlies have been doing pretty well! In fact, we ended up first in our division, second in our conference and third in the league. How could our farm team be doing so well when our NHL team is so poor? Well Brian Burke has been actively improving our prospect pool over the last few years through trades (Jake Gardiner, Carter Ashton, Joe Colborne), the draft (Matt Frattin, Nazem Kadri, Jerry D’Amigo), and signing free agents from the NCAA (Ben Scrivens, and in the NHL: Tyler Bozak, Jonas Gustavsson). We’ve actually attracted many goaltending prospects because of our goaltending coach as budding goalies have signed specifically in Toronto to become the next JS Giguere (when he was good).
Due to the Marlies’ finish, they are expected to make a deep push into the playoffs for the Calder Cup. I was originally thinking of getting some later round tickets, but ended up buying tickets for Game 1 of round 2 because I was able to get rink side seats! This was my first time at a playoff game, but not the first time I’ve been to a Marlies game, or the first time I sat rinkside; but it was still exciting being so close to the action – it felt closer than watching the Leafs.
The game started off well for the Marlies as we had the majority of the puck possession in the first period. However, we couldn’t generate a lot of shots or chances. The Heat had more in that category and ended up with a 1-0 lead. I’d chalk that up to sweeping the first round series and being off for a week. The second was no better though, and we ended that with a 2-0 deficit. We started our comeback when Frattin scored a flukey (or highly skilled tip) goal; but that’s as far as we got with the Heat scoring an empty netter for a 3-1 win and a 1-0 lead in the series.
We sat in the Leafs’ defensive end around the boards. It wasn’t the greatest because the Leafs controlled most of the play in the first and the third (and was thus at the other end of the ice). There weren’t as many scrums or hits in the corners as I thought there would be, and the ref sometimes stood in front of us. But nevertheless, the seats were affordable and we got to see a couple of this season’s Leafs (and hopefully some of next year’s too).
Here’s the game recap. If you watch the video, you can catch glimpses of us – we’re sitting right above the G in the GFL ad on the corner boards (but the ad is on both sides – so we’re on the side without the red seats). I think the best shot of us is on the replay of the empty net goal, around 5:25.