Friday, May 23, 2014

Hunting for Wolves

Okay, so it wasn't the Maple Leafs and Blackhawks, but the Toronto Marlies and Chicago Wolves battling it out last Friday night at the Ricoh Coliseum in downtown Toronto.

It had been some time since I took in an American Hockey League contest. With the Leafs polishing their golf clubs, the Marlies had the spotlight to themselves.

Prior to the action getting underway, I chatted with Gene Ubriaco the Wolves senior advisor and director of hockey operations. He pointed out that his team really didn't take-off until after Christmas. Down the stretch, they captured their conference title.

Once again facing a difficult task, the Wolves were down 3-0 in the best-of-seven semi-final series.

Like the three previous outings, Chicago fell behind early and never got on track. While Baz Bastien Memorial Award winner (best AHL goaltender) Jake Allen struggled for Chicago, Drew MacIntyre sparkled for the Marlies. When the Wolves mounted any sort of pressure during the series, MacIntyre slammed the door to his net shut.  On Friday night the Marlies netminder didn't let one ray of sunlight shine into his net. It was that bleak for Chicago's offence.

At the other end of the ice, Toronto's top line of Peter Holland, Carter Ashton and Sam Carrick produced a total of 5 points on offence.

Under coach Steve Spott, the Marlies blanked the Wolves 4-0 and completed the sweep over Chicago.

Depending on moves made by the parent club, it wouldn't be a surprise if Carrick made the leap next season to the NHL. He is a pesky player who would fit in nicely in the Leafs line-up as a fourth-liner.

Perhaps the most gifted player on the ice was Chicago's Dmitris Jaskin. Selected by the St. Louis Blues (41st overall) in 2011, Jaskin skated in 18 games with the Blues this season. The remainder of his year was spent with the Wolves.

Born in Omsk, Russia, the talented winger can dazzle on the ice and knows his way around the net. Next season, both Allen and Jaskin could find a permanent home on the Blues roster.

The Marlies resume their quest to win-it-all tonight when they begin the Western Conference final against the Texas Stars.

Athough the Wolves were silent last Friday evening, it was still a howling good time!

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