TORONTO – Early penalty trouble helped put the Toronto Marlies in a hole they couldn’t dig themselves out of.
Toronto was downed 2-1 by the Rochester Americans in American Hockey League action Thursday night in front of 3,792 fans at Ricoh Coliseum.
Michael Duco and Triston Grant scored for the Americans (16-16-3), while Christian Hanson got the lone marker for the Marlies, who dropped their second straight contest.
Jussi Rynnas faced 24 shots in the Marlies crease, while Toronto fired 30 at Tyler Plante, who was solid in the Americans goal.
The Marlies (17-14-4) took four minor penalties in the first period, surrendering the opening goal while playing two men short and falling behind by two goals just 38 seconds into the second.
Toronto coach Dallas Eakins didn’t think the shorthanded situations were necessarily the result of lazy play.
“We got into a little penalty trouble, but it wasn’t like we were being undisciplined,” he said. “It was, a guy gets his stick tapped out of his hands and that’s a penalty and then we knocked one over the glass by accident.”
Hanson pulled the Marlies within one 5:30 into the second period and the club pressed hard for an equalizer it couldn’t quite find. Toronto had a glorious chance to square the affair late in the game when former Marlie Bates Battaglia was given a four-minute penalty for high-sticking Danny Richmond with three minutes remaining. But even with Rynnas on the bench for a sixth skater, Toronto couldn’t find the mark.
“The whole third period we were all over them,” said Hanson, who scored for the second straight game. “The boys played a great team game and getting that power play at the end, we had possession, we were firing on net, we just couldn’t seem to beat him.”
Rochester got on the board with just over five minutes remaining in the opening frame. The Marlies were already down a man when Alex Foster sent a clearing attempt over the glass, providing the Americans with an extended two-man advantage they cashed in on when Duco tipped in a hard point shot from Clay Wilson.
Grant then increased the advantage when he made a quick shift to his backhand at the side of the net and slid the puck past Rynnas into the corner of the goal.
The loss means the Marlies, who sit second in the North Division, are now under .500 at home with a 7-8-2 mark. Toronto is 10-6-3 on the road, where they’ll play their next nine games over 21 days.
“I really don’t believe in the home and road records. The rink is the rink and you want to have a good record no matter where you are,” Eakins said.
Toronto’s last big trip helped the squad turn its season around as it posted a 6-1-3 mark on a 10-game trip in November that corrected a 2-6-0 start.
Notes: Toronto forward Jay Rosehill left the game late in the third with a dislocated thumb, but Eakins said team doctors put the digit back in place and he wasn’t sure if Rosehill would miss any time. . . Marlies rookie Nazem Kadri served the second game of a two-game suspension and will be back in the line-up on Friday night when the Marlies travel to Grand Rapids to face the Griffins. . . With a spate of injuries and centre Darryl Boyce called up to the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier in the day, two players who typically play defence—Josh Engel and Simon Gysbers—played forward. . . Forward Matt Caruana played his first game of the season with Toronto after being called up from the ECHL.