TORONTO – The Ricoh Coliseum felt like home Sunday – maybe not to the Toronto Marlies, but certainly to a pair of forwards who used to play for them.
Kris Newbury and Jeremy Williams combined for five points against their former team Sunday as the Grand Rapids Griffins cruised to a 7-2 win over the Marlies on Sunday night in the American Hockey League.
Newbury, Francis Pare, Patrick Rissmiller, and Jan Mursak each had a goal and two assists to pace the Griffins (17-10-0), while Logan Pyett scored twice and Tomas Tatar added a goal and a helper. Jeremy Williams added a pair of assists.
Newbury said he had fun Sunday.
“It’s always nice to come back here,” said Newbury. “I have a lot of friends on the team and it’s a little extra motivation out there.”
Andre Deveaux and Brendan Mikkelson replied for the Marlies (12-10-4).
The Griffins got on the board quickly when Pare caught a great backhand pass at speed from Williams and deposited it behind sprawling Marlies netminder Andrew Engelage. Williams and Newbury, both of whom played for the Marlies last year, earned the assists.
“I think we played well in the first five or 10 minutes and that’s what we needed to do,” Newbury said. “We got pucks deep and when we had chances, we buried them.”
Toronto got back in the game by taking advantage of some sloppy Grand Rapids defence, as Darryl Boyce corralled the puck deep in Griffins territory and set up a shot by Viktor Stalberg. Griffins goaltender Thomas McCollum stopped the initial chance, but Deveaux was on the doorstep to convert the rebound.
Toronto returned the favour by leaving Newbury all alone in front of Engelage a few minutes later, and the Griffins centre made no mistake.
Grand Rapids opened things up in early in the second when a bad pinch by Marlies defenceman Phil Oreskovic led to a Griffins 3-on-2. Tatar finished off the play with a backhander between Engelage’s pads.
Minutes later, Toronto’s Richard Greenop and Paul Crosty of the Griffins engaged in a lengthy fight at centre ice, with both combatants landing several blows.
The Marlies seemed to be energized by the tilt and spent the next shift pinning the Griffins back in their own zone, but Toronto couldn’t beat McCollum.
A neutral zone turnover led to Grand Rapids’ fourth goal as ex-Marlie Newbury struck again. This time, it was Pyett finishing off a scattered rush where Engelage made the first save but kicked the rebound back into the slot, where Pyett was there to bang it home.
Seconds later, Rissmiller put the game out of reach for Grand Rapids, gathering a rebound off a Tatar shot that hit the Toronto goal post and wristing it into the open side of the net.
“Patrick is very strong,” said Tatar, a 19-year-old rookie from Slovakia. “He’s a very big guy and he knows where I am and where I like passes.”
Adam Munro replaced Engelage to open the third period.
The Marlies got a bit of a boost in the third when recent addition Mikkelson got his first goal of the season, and his first as a member of the Marlies. Mikkelson stripped a Griffins defender of the puck and swooped in on McCollum, throwing a nice backhand past the young goalkeeper.
McCollum didn’t face a lot of shots, but he was strong in the third period when the Marlies tried to jump back in the game by pressuring him.
Mursak added to Toronto’s misery by finishing off a 2-on-1 for the Griffins’ sixth goal of the game, then assisting on Pyett’s second of the game, a slapshot from the point with time winding down.
“We wanted to win this game,” Tatar said. “We need points, we want to climb up the standings in our division.”
Notes: Toronto Maple Leafs Nikolai Kulemin, Lee Stempniak, Mikhail Grabovski and Colton Orr were part of the ceremonial faceoff. … Jeremy Williams has seven points in four games against his old Marlies team this year. … Engelage and McCollum faced off against each other in last year’s Ontario Hockey League final when Engelage’s Windsor Spitfires beat McCollum’s Brampton Battalion.