Marlies End 2017 in Decisive Fashion

Toronto (5) Belleville (1) Final

By: Gordon Brown

Sunday, December 31, 2017

A New Year’s Eve matchup between the Toronto Marlies and Belleville Senators was highlighted at Ricoh Coliseum on Sunday afternoon. After falling by a score of 2-1 to the Senators less than one week ago, Toronto was poised for a shot at redemption.

Andreas Johnsson utilized a power play opportunity to help break the ice and give Toronto a 1-0 lead. Chris Mueller received the puck down low in the offensive zone to feed a backdoor cross-crease pass to Johnsson for his 2nd tally of the season.

His first goal of the season also came against Belleville last week.

As the second frame rolled around, Kasperi Kapanen doubled the advantage with a slick snipe off the rush. Frederik Gauthier connected with the Finnish phenom and delivered a saucer pass to set him free. Kapanen received the puck and immediately flipped it over the Hamburglar, Andrew Hammond.

Travis Dermott also notched a secondary assist on the play, his first point in his first game back from an upper-body injury.

As play resumed in the third, the Marlies finally exploded to take a stranglehold of the game.

Frederik Gauthier notched his first of two goals in the game after beating out several defenders en route to the net. The goat received a pass from Justin Holl before flipping it up and over Hammond to make it a 3-0 advantage.

Belleville countered several minutes later to stay within striking distance, however short lived it may have been. Chris DiDomenico broke Garret Sparks’ shutout bid at the mid-way point of the period for his 6th goal of the season.

That didn’t seem to phase the Marlies.

Toronto went back on the offensive and soon Gauthier had his second of the afternoon. An unbelievable individual effort saw the monster of a man weasel his way into Belleville’s zone before unleashing a perfect, yet deceptive wrist shot to restore the three-goal lead.

Last, but definitely not least, Adam Brooks found the back of the net in what would be his very first professional hockey goal. In 23 games prior, Brooks had posted just 2 assists — it’s fair to say his teammates were fired up about the situation.

“Everyone loves Brooksy in the room, doesn’t say much but everyone loves him just for the guy he is. I think everyone wanted him to get that goal as bad as he did.”

Not a bad way for the rookie to head into the new year.

When it was all said and done, the Marlies would walk away with a decisive 5-1 victory and end 2017 on an extremely high note. With the victory, Sheldon Keefe has earned the North Division coaching berth for the 2018 #AHLAllStar Classic.

On a side note, the Toronto Maple Leafs community will honour the late Johnny Bower on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018 at Air Canada Centre — the public service is open to all. Doors open at 2:00 p.m. EST at Gate 1 and the service will get underway at 3:00 p.m.

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Photo Credit: @TorontoMarlies