The Toronto Marlies took down the Grand Rapids Griffins 5-4 in overtime on Tuesday night at Coca-Cola Coliseum. Toronto improves to a 9-3-7-1 record.
Dmitry Ovchinnikov opened the scoring six minutes into the game, giving the Marlies a quick 1-0 lead. Joel L’Esperance answered for the Griffins just under two minutes later, tying the game at one. Mikko Kokkonen added the Marlies second goal 11 minutes later, giving Toronto a one goal lead through 20 minutes of play.
Albert Johansson scored for the Griffins just over 11 minutes into the second period, tying the game at three, before Kyle Clifford reclaimed the Marlies one goal advantage three minutes later.
The Griffins added two quick goals in the third period from Jonathan Berggren and Zach Aston-Reese, giving them a 4-3 lead. William Villeneuve answered for the Marlies with his first of the season just under 13 minutes later, tying the game at four. The back-and-forth contest required overtime, but Joseph Blandisi ended the game quickly with a goal just under a minute into the extra frame, capping a three-point night.
Blandisi’s line, which included Kyle Clifford and Logan Shaw, combined for seven points in the win. For Head Coach John Gruden, it wasn’t surprising to see the line excel together.
“No, and there’s a reason why we put that line together. The three captains,” Gruden said. “They gave us everything they got – it was good to see. Glad Joe got rewarded because he’s been getting a lot of chances, just hasn’t been finishing them. Really glad for his confidence that he got that one down.”
Villeneuve added after the game that it was a nice reward to score his first of the year.
“Yeah, I think it’s a relief,” Villeneuve said. “I think I haven’t been having a great start of the season so far. Still trying to find my game. Still felt like I’m trying to implement a pro hockey game, simplify my game a little bit. To get that goal was a bit of a weight off my shoulders.”
The Marlies are back in action on Sunday at Coca-Cola Coliseum when they host the Griffins again. Puck drop is at 4:00pm on the Toronto Maple Leafs app or on AHLTV.