In front of an announced crowd of 3,128, the Marlies surrendered a franchise-record seven power-play chances in the opening frame, and went on to fall 8-1 to the Syracuse Crunch in American Hockey League action Tuesday night at Ricoh Coliseum.
“Calls are made every game, and whether you like them or not, it’s how you react to them that matters,” said Marlies winger Tyson Nash, who was called for four minor penalties and a 10-minute abuse of officials misconduct during the fight-filled game. “You’ve got to be mentally strong, and I wasn’t mentally strong at all.
“It’s like I was mad at the world tonight. You can’t do what I did out there. I hurt the team.”
Jeffrey Szwez, Olivier Labelle and Joakim Lindstrom each scored twice while Filip Novak and Ryan Caldwell added goals for the Crunch (11-21-1-2), who beat the Marlies for the second time in less than a week.
Erik Westrum replied for Toronto (14-18-2-3), which has lost four of its last five games.
The Marlies’ previous worst loss came Feb. 10, 2006, in an 8-2 thumping at the hands of the Portland Pirates. They allowed 19 Crunch power plays in total Wednesday – five of which resulted in Syracuse goals – and had five players ejected for fighting.
“We were very undisciplined, to say the least,” said Marlies coach Greg Gilbert, whose team fell to 4-12-2-1 at home this season. “Part of being a pro is sucking it up. We don’t seem to have that attitude yet, and that’s the most disappointing part.”
The Crunch finished the first period up 3-0 on markers from Novak, Caldwell and Szwez. Syracuse extended its lead at 4:23 of the second on Lindstrom’s third of the year, before Westrum’s 13th got the Marlies on the scoresheet at the 12:20 mark of the period.
Labelle, with two, Lindstrom and Szwez had third-period goals for Syracuse, which sits at the bottom of the North Division.
The Marlies, who lead the Crunch by eight points in the standings, were not pleased to lose to the only team below them in the North.
“That’s what’s frustrating,” Nash said. “It seems like we lose to teams below us (in the standings) every night. It’s totally unacceptable. We have to play desperate.”
Added Gilbert: “Any loss bothers me. I think it bothers (the coaching staff) and the trainers more than some of (the players). That’s something we have to address.”
Crunch goalie Tomas Popperle (8-11-1) stopped 19 Marlies shots, while Racine, who was pulled in favour of Todd Ford after the first period, made 14 saves to fall to 6-9-3 on the year.