“I’ll take the blame for the loss,” he said following a 4-2 American Hockey League defeat in front of 3,105 fans at Ricoh Coliseum. “The first two goals shouldn’t have gone in.
“All I can do is learn from tonight and be ready to go for my next start.”
Forwards Kris Kolanos, Matt Ellis and Kip Miller and defenceman Danny Syvret scored for the Griffins (2-0-1). Centre Matt Hussey chipped in with two assists.
“The first goal, I have to play the shooter, I have to square up to the shooter,” Racine said of Kolanos’s goal, a shot from down low close to the goal-line that beat the Marlies goalie at 3:47 of the first period.
Racine, who shut out Syracuse 6-0 in Toronto’s season opener last Friday night, made 24 saves on 28 shots against Grand Rapids.
“He didn’t get off to a good start tonight,” Marlies coach Greg Gilbert said of Racine. “He made some big saves for us later on, but that first one went in high on the short side. But you’re going to have some nights like that.”
At the other end, Griffins netminder Jimmy Howard made 33 saves.
“Howard did a good job of covering up rebounds tonight,” Gilbert said. “And we didn’t have a lot of guys driving to the net-we took a lot of shots from the perimeter.”
Defenceman Marc Moro, who hadn’t scored a goal since the 2004-05 season, and rookie right winger Jeff Corey tallied for the Marlies. With the loss, Toronto falls to 1-2-0 on the season.
“We worked hard tonight, we just couldn’t get too much going,” Gilbert said. “It was just one of those nights, we had some offence in spurts, but not consistently.”
The Griffins went 1-for-5 on the power play, while the Marlies were 1-for-6 with the man advantage.
Grand Rapids led 2-1 after the first period and 3-1 through 40 minutes.
The lanky Kolanos opened the scoring when he wired a slapshot from a bad angle – he was close to the goal-line and nearly in the right corner – that went over Racine’s left shoulder.
Moro, the Marlies captain, tied the game on the power play at 15:03 of the first. The veteran blue-liner, who didn’t score in 73 games last season, corralled centre Jeremy Williams’ rebound in the slot and slid it through the legs of Howard.
Grand Rapids went back up 2-1 at 18:23 of the first when Ellis tipped a pass from Josh Langfeld that eluded Racine through the five-hole.
Syvret gave the Griffins a 3-1 lead at 13:20 of the second period, when his wrist shot from the top of the right circle went over the left shoulder of a screened Racine.
Miller put Grand Rapids up 4-1 when he lifted a shot past Racine 40 seconds into the final frame.
Corey, who played nine games for the Marlies last season after graduating from the University of Vermont, pulled Toronto to within 4-2 at 7:58 of the third period, but that was the last shot to beat Howard.
Racine’s biggest save of the game came midway through the second period.
With the Griffins on the power play, left winger Derek Meech took a cross-ice pass and ripped a one-timer from the right faceoff circle that Racine somehow got across and blocked with his body. The puck dropped into the crease area, but Racine swept it away with his blocker.
“I’m just waiting for someone to step up,” said Gilbert when asked how Racine’s performance would affect the competition for the starting goaltending job.
The Marlies also have hot prospect Justin Pogge, who lost his first pro start last Saturday, 5-2 to visiting Manitoba.
“It’s only three games (into the season),” Gilbert continued. “J-F had a shutout in his first game, Pogge had a bit of a tough time against Manitoba, and Racine struggled a bit tonight.
“I’m just hoping someone will step up.”
Note: The game was the first between Toronto and Grand Rapids since the two teams met in the first round of last spring’s AHL playoffs. The Griffins eliminated the Marlies 4-1 in the North Division semifinal series.