Marlies fall to Bulldogs

GORD ANDERSON, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:26 AM ET

Jeff Finger was his usual steadying self on the blue line Sunday afternoon as the Toronto Marlies fell 3-1 to the Hamilton Bulldogs in front of 5,624 spectators at the Ricoh Coliseum.

He was sure and steady in his own zone and the fact he was barely noticeable, to the untrained eye, doesn’t mean he wasn’t effective. The man knows how to keep it clean in his own end.

After signing a four-year deal with the Leafs in 2008, Finger found his playing time cut in half through two seasons with Toronto. So much so, he now works his craft with the Marlies after clearing waivers on Oct.12.

It would be only human for him not to be disappointed but he hasn’t let that affect his play on the ice.

“People may have a hard time believing this but I would rather be down here playing than up there and not playing,” Finger said. “My pay doesn’t change when I do come down. If they’re not going to use me up there, might as well come down here.”

Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins said Finger was upset about being waived but he turned the negative on its ear with a positive attitude.

“He was disappointed, obviously, but when he walked into my office the first day he told me: ‘I just want to play,’” Eakins said. “‘I’m going to work hard to get back to the NHL and I’m going to help the young players along the way.’

“If he wasn’t disappointed then he shouldn’t be playing hockey.”

Eakins thinks Finger has the game to be in the NHL but money is the ultimate decision maker.

“I think he could play right now,” he said. “Sometimes it’s not always about the way you play, he’s got a big contract and there’s a salary cap. But he’s ready if need be.”

Hamilton (11-3-1-3) opened the scoring just 31 seconds into the middle frame when Max Pacioretty whistled a wrist shot past the glove of Marlies goalie Jussi Rynnas.

Toronto (9-8-0-3) tied the game at 10:50 of the third period when Brayden Irwin’s snapshot squeezed between the arm and body of Hamilton goalie Curtis Sanford.

The Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead with 1:08 remaining in the third period when Gabriel Dumont banged home a rebound and J.T. Wyman closed the books, scoring into the empty net with 21 seconds remaining.

Rynnas (3-5-2) stopped 24 shots for Toronto.

Sanford (6-1-0) made 27 saves for Hamilton.

The Marlies went 0-12 on the power play in the two games.


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