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Not-So-Friendly Neighbors Up North

Dec 05, 2023
Written By: Dylan Rider
1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
Grand Rapids Griffins 1 1 2 0 4
Toronto Marlies 2 1 1 1 5

GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 4 at Toronto Marlies 5 (OT)

TORONTO -- In the first game of their Canadian road trip, the Grand Rapids Griffins fell 5-4 in overtime to the Toronto Marlies on Tuesday at Coca-Cola Coliseum. In the loss, Zach Aston-Reese earned his 50th AHL point as part of his three-point night (1-2–3).

Joel L’Esperance, Albert Johansson, Jonatan Berggren and Aston-Reese all scored in the contest. Johansson’s tally was his first of the season, which helped add to a second two-point outing in his last three contests.

December 5, 2023  ·  4 Minutes

Toronto Marlies vs. Grand Rapid Griffins | Game Highlights | December 5, 2023

A turnover by the Griffins in their zone allowed Dmitry Ovchinnikov to collect his fifth goal in three games against the Griffins, as he rifled a shot past Michael Hutchinson from the doorstep to put the Marlies up 1-0 at 6:01. Just under two minutes later, a pass from Tim Gettinger put the puck on L’Esperance’s stick, which resulted in him ripping the disc past Dennis Hildeby and inside the left post from the doorstep to tie the game up with 12:19 left in the first. In the last minutes of the opening frame, Mikko Kokkonen beat Hutchinson on a glove-side shot from the blueline to put the Marlies back in front at 18:52.

Over midway through the second period, Johansson tucked a shot under the crossbar from the bottom of the left circle to even the score at 2-2 with 8:38 remaining in the frame. A rush into the Griffins' zone enabled Kyle Clifford to break past two Griffins and ended with him slipping a shot through the five-hole for the Marlies' third lead of the evening at 14:23.

With an extra skater on during a delayed penalty, Berggren wristed a bullet from the top of the right circle, which returned the game to a deadlock with 17:25 remaining in the third period. While Grand Rapids was on a five-minute power play, Aston-Reese gave the Griffins a 4-3 lead with a shot from the top of the left circle at 3:43. Late in the period, Toronto found an equalizer of their own when William Villeneuve went top-shelf over Hutchinson's left shoulder from the top of the right circle with 3:48 left to play.

Early in the overtime period, the Marlies set up in the defensive zone off an odd-man rush. Joseph Blandisi sealed a 5-4 Marlies overtime victory, as he slipped the puck into the net just 56 seconds into overtime. 

- With the overtime loss, the Griffins are still looking for their second road win of the season. They currently sit at 1-6-1-1 when they are the visitors.
- Taro Hirose extended his point streak (3-7--10) to seven games while Simon Edvinsson (2-7--9) and Berggren (4-5--9) extended their point streaks to six.

Box Score
Grand Rapids 1 1 2 0 - 4
Toronto 2 1 1 1 - 5

1st Period-1, Toronto, Ovchinnikov 7 (Solow, Holmberg), 6:01. 2, Grand Rapids, L’Esperance 4 (Gettinger, Aston-Reese), 7:41. 3, Toronto, Kokkonen 2 (Shaw, Blandisi), 18:52. Penalties-Stevens Gr (roughing), 15:23.

2nd Period-4, Grand Rapids, Johansson 1 (Aston-Reese, Berggren), 11:22. 5, Toronto, Clifford 3 (Shaw, Blandisi), 14:23. Penalties-Bellows Tor (hooking), 7:10; Hanas Gr (cross-checking), 18:47.

3rd Period-6, Grand Rapids, Berggren 5 (Johansson, Edvinsson), 2:35. 7, Grand Rapids, Aston-Reese 4 (L’Esperance, Hirose), 3:43 (PP). 8, Toronto, Villeneuve 1 (Kokkonen, Shaw), 16:12. Penalties-Solow Tor (major - elbowing, game misconduct - elbowing), 2:35; Kasper Gr (high-sticking), 7:53.

OT Period-9, Toronto, Blandisi 5 0:56. Penalties-No Penalties

Shots on Goal-Grand Rapids 9-11-7-0-27. Toronto 10-11-4-1-26.
Power Play Opportunities-Grand Rapids 1 / 3; Toronto 0 / 3.
Goalies-Grand Rapids, Hutchinson 4-6-1 (26 shots-21 saves). Toronto, Hildeby 4-3-2 (27 shots-23 saves).

Three Stars
1. TOR Blandisi (goal, two assists); 2. TOR Kokkonen (goal, assist); 3. GR Aston-Reese (goal, two assists)

Record / Next Game
Grand Rapids: 7-9-2-1 (17 pts.) / Fri., Dec. 8 at Belleville 7 p.m.
Toronto: 9-7-3-1 (22 pts.) / Sun., Dec. 10 vs. Grand Rapids 4 p.m.

Photo by Toronto Marlies