TORONTO – Tyler Plante had to be good to hold the Toronto Marlies off the scoreboard in the first period. After that, it was all Rochester.
The Americans goalie stopped 14 first-period shots as the Marlies were blanked 2-0 in American Hockey League action Saturday.
Defenceman Clay Wilson led the way offensively with a goal and an assist, while Graham Mink also scored for the Americans in front of 3,972 fans at the Ricoh Coliseum.
Plante was terrific early on, stopping 22 shots in total as the Marlies failed to generate much offence beyond the opening 20 minutes.
“We had our fair share of (early chances) and if one of those goes in it might be a different game,” said Marlies centre Tim Brent. “But they did a good job and they have some veteran defenceman there and a lot of veteran forwards that play the system well. It gets frustrating when they get up a couple goals and seem to snuff you out a little bit.”
Backup Andrew Engelage made 32 saves for the Marlies, but his team failed to provide any offensive support as Toronto lost its fourth consecutive game.
The Marlies (17-22-9) dictated the play for most of the first period and forced Rochester into penalty trouble. Toronto manufactured a number of quality scoring chances – particularly during an extended two-man advantage – but failed to beat Plante, whose best save came when he denied Kyle Calder from the lip of the crease after Calder one-timed a nice pass from Andre Deveaux.
Toronto coach Dallas Eakins knew his team missed a golden chance when it didn’t cash in on the power play.
“I thought when we couldn’t get one on that 5-on-3 it kind of took the wind out of our sails a little bit,” he said.
After weathering the Marlies’ onslaught, Rochester (28-17-2) scored the first goal of the game when Wilson’s wrist shot floated past a screened Engelage from just inside the blue-line with 5:03 to play in the opening period.
Having seen how well Plante was playing, Engelage knew he didn’t have much room for error.
“Obviously you’re seeing what he’s doing down at the other end and it’s almost a bit more motivation, you’ve got to try and do the same thing as well,” he said. “Unfortunately they got that first one that kind of made its way through traffic somehow. It was a bit of a letdown for the team considering we played such a great first period and to come away down one was a bit of a tough break.”
Rochester padded its lead during a stretch of four-on-four play in the second period when Mink, standing in front of the goal, grabbed a loose puck, quickly pivoted and slid it into the far corner.
Toronto didn’t do much to force the issue, failing to register a shot on goal until the third period was more than halfway done then taking some late penalties.
All together, the Marlies took four shots in the second period and four more in the third.
“You’re not going to score many goals firing eight pucks in two periods,” Eakins said.
Notes: Tim Brent, who had at least one point in his first five games as a Marlie, was held pointless. … Wilson’s two points gave him 33 on the season, good for second in league scoring among blue-liners. … The Marlies play their third game of the weekend when they host the Lake Erie Monsters on Sunday.