TORONTO – A total of eight penalties and a hat trick by Toronto Marlies defenseman T.J. Brennan proved to be too big of obstacles for the Grand Rapids Griffins to overcome on Saturday afternoon when they were defeated 4-3 in overtime.
Brennan opened the scoring in the first period with a quick snap of the wrist at 5:25, yielding the first professional goal against Griffins rookie goaltender Jared Coreau.
Despite a distinct 7-0 shot disadvantage in the first half of the period, the Griffins turned the tables on the Marlies with a goal by Tomas Jurco at 14:10. Gustav Nyquist delivered the puck to Jurco from the corner and he easily found an opening between the post and Toronto netminder Drew MacIntyre, tying the game at 1-1.
Shortly after at 15:59, Riley Sheahan walked into the crease and slammed the puck home off of a feed from Luke Glendening to secure a 2-1 lead. The Griffins maintained a firm grip on the rest of the period, outshooting the Marlies 14-4 in the second half of the first.
The momentum shifted in the direction of Toronto during the second period when the Griffins offered up five consecutive power play opportunities.
Grand Rapids nearly fended off an Adam Almquist holding penalty that came at 9:47, but Glendening sent a rogue puck out of play near the end of the penalty kill which resulted in a delay of game call at 11:36. Staving off Toronto’s short two-man advantage, the Griffins couldn’t hold back Brennan for the remainder of the power play as he buried the puck past Coreau at 12:29.
Brennan refused to be extinguished, rifling yet another shot beyond the reaches of Coreau at 16:17 while the Griffins were at full strength. The goal marked Brennan’s third of the game and notched him a hat trick, much to the joy of Toronto’s season-opening crowd. Brennan’s hat trick was the first allowed by Grand Rapids since Dec. 28, 2011 when Hugh Jessiman tallied the game-winning goal in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Lake Erie Monsters. The Marlies led in scoring 3-2 at the close of the second period.
The Griffins returned to the ice seemingly rejuvenated in the third period, indicated mainly by Mitch Callahan’s tying goal at 4:53. Jurco broke into the Toronto zone with possession and as the Marlies defense clogged his path, he made a pass behind his back to Callahan who deposited the puck into the wide open net.
At 13:39, the Griffins were granted a huge opportunity to secure the lead when Andrew MacWilliam was called for a five-minute boarding major after a mutual team tussle near the Grand Rapids net. They were unable to capitalize on the biggest opportunity of the game, however, and the game headed into overtime knotted at three each.
In the extra minutes, Nathan Paetsch was called for a delay of game just six seconds in and Brennan Evans closed his hand around the puck at 2:20. The penalties proved to be lethal for the Griffins when Marlies captain Trevor Smith sealed the deal with a violent one-timer at 2:59.
Former Griffin MacIntyre earned the victory for Toronto behind 27 saves, while Coreau managed to stop 22 shots in his debut with the Griffins. Grand Rapids ends its opening weekend on the road with a 1-0-1-0 record.