Marlies Torched 5-1 by Heat

The Toronto Marlies opened up a four-game homestand on Monday afternoon but the visiting Abbotsford Heat were just too hot to handle lighting up the Marlies 5-1 on Family Day at the Ricoh Coliseum.
 
Olivier Latendresse and Mikael Backlund led the way as each scored twice and with the victory, Abbotsford moved two points ahead of Manitoba and into sole possession of third place in the North Division.
 
The Marlies had a slow start and fell behind 1-0 early on a power-play goal by Heat left-winger Cam Cunning, his 12th of the season. The Heat nearly made it 2-0 on a two-on-one break seconds later but were foiled by Marlies netminder James Reimer.
 
The Marlies started to find their legs as the first period wore on and tied the game on a power-play goal of their own. Justin Hodgman came out from behind the net and tucked in a neat wrap-around goal that banked in of the pad of Heat goalie David Shantz. The teams remained tied 1-1 at the end of the first period.
 
The second period was entertaining and fast paced as both teams traded numerous scoring chances. The pace slowed as penalties late in the period disrupted the flow of the game. The Marlies were on a power-play when it was negated with a tripping penalty by center Tim Brent. Just over a minute later, left-winger Ben Simon was assessed a double minor for high-sticking leaving the Marlies short-handed for the rest of the period.
 
It didn’t take the Heat very long to net the go-ahead goal, just 18 seconds into their four-on-three power-play. Olivier Latendresse skated to the top of the face-off circle and rifled a slap-shot past Reimer to put the Heat up 2-1 going into the third period.
 
Heat Pull Away in the Third
 
The Marlies looked tired and sluggish to start the third, and that trend continued throughout the period. The Heat took advantage early with Latendresse roofing a nifty spin-around backhand shot past Reimer to put the Abbotsford up 3-1.
 
From there the Heat didn’t look back and turned on the pressure scoring two more goals, both by centre Backlund, before the 13-minute mark. Backlund’s second goal resulted in a great tic-tac-toe passing play between him and left-winger Shawn Weller before Backlund hit the top shelf past a flopping Reimer’s outstretched glove.
 
The late goal in the second and the early goal in the third seemed to deflate Toronto. The Marlies couldn’t get much going as the Heat kept them to the outside forcing long shoot-ins allowing Shantz to make easy saves. Whenever any Toronto player did get close enough for a shot the Heat would block shots or deflect them out of harm’s way.
 
David Shantz picked up the win stopping all but one of 23 Marlies shots. The Heat are now 3-0 on their nine game road trip. 
 
After the game, Marlies coach Dallas Eakins commented on the how the team’s recent roadtrip might have affected the team’s play against Abbotsford.
 
“We were a very tired hockey team in a very big game and we weren’t able to rise up to the occasion,” said coach Dallas Eakins.
 
“Playing those back-to-back games in Manitoba took a lot out of us. And we travelled yesterday and then a two o’clock game today so everything happened very quickly. Our guys were prepared, they knew what was coming at them and I just thought we hung on for as long as we could and then the bubble burst.”
 
Hodgeman, whose fifth goal of the season was the lone bright spot for the Marlies, echoed the coach’s sentiments.
 
“I think we came out flat,” said Hodgeman. “A lot of travel lately, a two o’clock game – it’s tough to adjust but no excuses. I think we came out flat and it just carried out throughout the game.”
 
Marlies goaltender, Reimer was playing in only his second game since returning from an injury suffered in late November. Despite feeling physically stronger, he felt he let his teammates down by letting in a couple of bad goals.
 
“When your team’s a little tired you need to make big saves and sure can’t let any bad goals in,” said Reimer. “Unfortunately that happened tonight but those games happen sometimes.”
 
Deveaux Suspended
The Marlies were without forward Andre Deveaux for Monday’s game. Deveaux has been suspended by the AHL indefinitely after an incident during Friday’s game against the Manitoba Moose in Winnipeg where he threw a roll of tape at a fan. According to the officials’ post-game report, Deveaux was responding to racial slurs and the AHL has conducted a disciplinary hearing regarding the incident.
The Toronto Marlies continue their homestand on Wednesday night when they play Manitoba for the third time in six days.

Photos and article by Aman Dhanoa. Aman can be reached at aman@oyetimes.com

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