April 24, 2012
Marlies blank Amerks, sweep series
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI AGency
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - The Toronto Marlies brought out the shovels — and then the brooms — to Blue Cross Arena on Monday night.
With a strong defensive game taking priority, the higher-seeded Marlies blanked the Rochester Americans 3-0 and swept the best-of-five opening-round series.
It was the first time the Maple Leafs’ farm team had won a series since 2008, earning them a nice rest as they await other American Hockey League playdowns to sort out.
The Marlies’ best line might have been their fourth unit of energy players Greg Scott, Will Acton and Jay Rosehill. They were enjoying regular shifts and pinning the Amerks deep, while the rest of the team showed why their record is now 30-0-3 this season when leading after two periods.
“You can call them our fourth line, but sometimes they’re our second,” coach Dallas Eakins said. “They can all skate. We showed some video (to the whole team) this morning about how we wanted our forecheck to go and the four clips we showed were all of that line.”
Scott is a 20-goal scorer who had to find a niche on an offensively strong team, while Rosehill was an unused Leafs bodyguard much of the year and looking for another chance. Centre Acton, the son of departed Leafs assistant coach Keith Acton, has gone from walk-on with the Marlies to a regular.
“Dallas has given us confidence to play against anyone, the other team’s top line or whoever,” said Scott.
He survived a painful last-minute shot block after getting squashed into the boards in the dying seconds of Game 2, resulting in a Game 3 suspension for the Amerks’ Alex Biega.
Nine of Rochester’s first 18 shots through two periods came from defencemen on the perimeter, none from their top offensive stars such as Marcus Foligno. Twinned with the goaltending of Ben Scrivens, with 29 saves in his best game of the series, it was a potent combination.
“This was my most complete game of the series,” said Scrivens, who also had a pair of 4-3 wins. “The (time off between series) will be good, we can’t look at it any other way. No one would want to go from a hard-fought, winner-take-all five-game series and then fly somewhere to start again.
“Dallas and all our coaches were in the NHL, they are notorious for saying that rest is a weapon. We’ll get time off, but I’m sure we’re not going to be pulling up our easy chairs. There will be tough practices.”
The Marlies bled the Amerks dry, making them work for all 200 feet of ice. The quality chances they did get were turned aside by Scrivens.
The Amerks wasted much of their time trying to settle scores with the chirpy Nazem Kadri. At one point, he took a stick in the roof of his mouth that chipped some teeth. General manager Brian Burke was on hand to watch and had to like Kadri’s back-checking. Although he took two third-period penalties with the game still in doubt, he did hop out of the box and score the third goal.
The crowd of 7,118 at Blue Cross Arena never had a chance to get in the game after an early Philippe Dupuis goal. Meanwhile, Binghamton, N.Y., native Jerry D’Amigo scored his fifth of the series in the second period and assisted on Kadri’s goal.
The Marlies decided to sit out winger Carter Ashton as a precaution with an undisclosed injury suffered late in Game 2. But that meant 47-point healthy scratch Marcel Mueller could come back with regular linemates Nicolas Deschamps and Dupuis. That freed D’Amigo to play on a high-octane line with Matt Frattin and Joe Colborne. The latter still can’t take draws after a hard slash caused a deep cut on his finger.