Marlies Face Familiar Foe in Lake Erie

Marlies close out 2011 road schedule in Cleveland against the Monsters.

by Clayton Hansler
December 28, 2011

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With only a pair of games left in 2011, one both at home and on the road, the Toronto Marlies could end a rocky month of December by drawing even. The Toronto team has posted a 4-6 record in the year's final chapter, and could level off at .500 with a pair of victories.

The Marlies have notched only a single victory in their past five outings and although they are yet to relinquish the division's top spot, the comfortable seven point lead has evaporated. Competitors now sit right on their stoop.

Goal scoring, which has appeared to be what has suffered most through December, has come in fits and spurts. Toronto has tallied goals in only three of the past 15 periods of play. The team's powerplay, which had appeared to be making up ground among league counterparts, has scored once in 18 opportunities.

Yet, as often has been the case, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

None have proven tougher than team captain Ryan Hamilton.

Leading by example in his first year as the lettered leader, Hamilton holds the team's top goal scoring spot alongside highly touted pivot Joe Colborne, with 11. Hamilton, a native of southern Ontario, has been a key cog in all situations for the club, finding time on both the powerplay and penalty kill - recently rewarding the captain a shorthanded tally.

Joining Hamilton with goals in consecutive games, Jerry D'Amigo has been the hottest offensively on a team looking for unlikely heroes. Despite suffering a pair of losses in the past three, D'Amigo has emerged with a trio of points (2g, 1a) and a plus-1 rating.

For the Monsters, whose recent six games have been a reflection of most of their season routinely trading a win for loss, Tyson Barrie has continued to pace his comrades in points. Of the 20 earned thus far, 16 have come by way of assists, combining with Hugh Jessiman on multiple occasions.

While Barrie leads the club in points and assists, Jessiman has a command of the goal scoring race. The winger's 15 scores more than doubles that of any of his teammates. Combined, Barrie and Jessiman notched four goals and six points in the team's victory on Wednesday night, the latter earning his first hat-trick of the season.

Thursday will mark the sixth meeting between the two division rivals, the clubs battling five times in the month of December. A pair of victories on home ice have given the Monsters a 3-2 series lead as they had an overtime win earlier at the Marlies' Ricoh Coliseum.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, with all the action broadcast online through AHL Live. Follow the Toronto Marlies 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.


Notes: Toronto will be without defenceman Korbinian Holzer as the German rearguard was recalled to the Maple Leafs earlier in the week … Marlies expect Tyler Brenner to return to action against Lake Erie, the forward having missed eight games with an upper body injury … Monsters' special teams have struggled as they rank 20th at home on both the powerplay and penalty kill … Player to Watch: Jerry D'Amigo. D'Amigo's amidst a career season with 8 goals and 18 points in 31 games.

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