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New Faces versus Rochester

Marlies welcome Greg McKegg and Andrew Crescenzi prior to Saturday's game versus Rochester.

by Clayton Hansler
April 9, 2011

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TORONTO MARLIES (35-32-1-10) -VS- ROCHESTER AMERICANS (31-38-5-4)


After a season riddled with injuries and recalls of many of the club's key players, the Toronto Marlies happily welcome some fresh blood into the lineup as they prepare for their final meeting with the Rochester Americans.

All of James Reimer, Keith Aulie, Nazem Kadri and Matt Lashoff, top talent on the Toronto Marlies, have made their way up to the big leagues, fitting in nicely with Ron Wilson's system and Brian Burke's vision. Ryan Hamilton, Jussi Rynnas, Justin Hodgman, Luca Caputi and Brayden Irwin, all mainstays on the Marlies roster, have spent considerable time out with various ailments and injuries. It was only a matter of time, as the college and major junior teams wrapped up their playoff drives, that reinforcements would arrive.

Playing in his first career professional hockey league game on Saturday, Greg McKegg joins the Marlies after his OHL Erie Otters suffered a game-seven defeat in the playoffs' first round. McKegg, who captained the Otters, finished eighth in OHL scoring with 49 goals and 92 points. Although still with another year ahead of him in the OHL, the two remaining games McKegg will play to close out the Marlies season will serve as a taste to Toronto management, coaching staff and fans of what is to come.

Andrew Crescenzi's output of 12 goals and 23 points is slightly more modest than the numbers produced by McKegg, but his experience with Kitchener, and another Marlies returnee Jerry D'Amigo, is greatly anticipated. Both Crescenzi and D'Amigo make their way to the Marlies after being ousted in the OHL playoff's first round in game seven. D'Amigo posted 12 goals, 28 points in 21 regular season OHL games after leaving the Marlies for Kitchener. He then added another six goals and nine points in the playoffs.

Rochester too will be icing fresh faces on Saturday, monitoring their ability to play at the AHL level. The Americans announced Thursday the signing of Mike Hedden to a professional tryout contract. Hedden is coming off a break-out season with the ECHL's Toledo Walleye where he posted 32 goals and 52 points in 57 games. In 2009-10, Hedden played alongside the Marlies' Justin Hodgman. Hodgman was later signed by Toronto and has not been returned to the ECHL club.

Signed to an amateur tryout agreement, Anthony Luciani comes to Rochester after being ousted from the playoff round that brought McKegg to Toronto. Luciani's 29 goals and 78 points placed him fourth in team scoring, three spots behind McKegg's team leading total. Luciani will be eligible to join the AHL full-time at the beginning of the 2011-12 season.

Toronto has struggled against Rochester this season, much like they have against most of their division, winning only three of seven previous meetings and collecting seven points along the way. The Marlies look to end their season-high five game winless streak as they face an Americans team that has managed only two wins in their past 16 games.

In their last meeting on March 11th, the two teams combined for 89 penalty minutes. Toronto scored five times with the extra man setting a new franchise record. Eric Selleck, Rochester's resident agitator, was suspended by the AHL after the contest for a late hit on Marlies forward Joe Colborne. With both teams far removed from the playoff picture, it would be of no surprise if the emotions from the last matchup were to carry over into Saturday's contest.

Marlies Head Coach Dallas Eakins will likely split the goaltending duties this weekend between Ben Scrivens and Jussi Rynnas. At the conclusion of the regular season, it is expected that Scrivens will report to the Reading Royals as they continue their playoff push to the Kelly Cup.

Puck drop is scheduled for 3:00pm at Ricoh Coliseum, and will be televised on RogersTV and broadcast online on AHL Live. Follow the Toronto Marlies, John Bartlett and Chansler on twitter for updates on all the action, and join the game long conversation on the Marlies Facebook page.

Having a problem putting a name to a number? Check out the full Marlies' roster here.


EXPECTED MARLIES LINEUP


STARTING IN GOAL:
#30 Ben Scrivens


FORWARD LINES

McKegg - Foster - Brenner
Hamilton - Hanson - D'Amigo
Cowan - Crescenzi - Voros
Mueller - Hodgman - Scott


DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Gardiner - Holzer
Engel - Gysbers
Richmond - Brennan


Notes: Toronto's March 11th meeting vs Rochester one of only two games in the past 19 which the Marlies have scored more than 3 goals … The Marlies last two victories against Rochester the first time the team has earned back-to-back wins vs Americans since the Feb 22nd and Mar 13th 2009 … the Marlies last won three consecutive games against the Americans Nov 19th, 26th and 30th 2008 … Hanson and Foster lead the Marlies with 3 goals this season against Rochester … Player to Watch: Jerry D'Amigo. D'Amigo used the time in the OHL to further his offensive game producing at an incredible rate of 1.32 points per game.

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