Monday, March 16, 2015

Toronto Marlies 4 at Adirondack Flames 5 (AHL) - March 14, 2015

After recovering from the stunning Stony Brook loss, I managed to get to Glens Falls for an evening of AHL hockey as the Marlies were visiting the Adirondack Flames. The two parent clubs had met in Calgary the night before with Toronto losing 6-3; I hoped for a better result in this contest. As an aside, hope is for the foolish.

There's a top notch Vietnamese restaurant between Albany and Glens Falls (Saigon Spring in Clifton Park) so my wife agreed to join the Adirondack adventure if we stopped for dinner there first. Well worth it and a welcome change from all the pub food I usually eat on these trips. We got to Glens Falls around 6, shocking my wife who realized that she had to spend an hour before the game in a cold arena. Her argument: you don't arrive an hour before watching a movie, why do it at a sporting event? My attempts to explain the beauty of the hockey warmup and writing down line combinations fell on deaf ears.

The Glens Falls Civic Center is an old building that looks like a grocery store from the outside. Inside, it is filled with passageways that lead to a pub underneath the seats and some very old honourees of some sort, which are not that well maintained. On the other hand, the New York Basketball Hall of Fame takes up a couple of walls next to the main entrance and is worth a quick look if only for the pictures of future NBA stars in high school, including Ron Artest and Elton Brand. There is also a small Glens Falls Hockey Hall of Fame on the other side of the entrance with several old Adirondack Red Wings enshrined, including Pete Mahovlich and Barry Melrose.

I bought good seats and we ended up sitting right next to the Marlies entrance onto the ice, across from the benches. It was good to see some familiar names in the lineup, including William Nylander, the Leafs #1 pick from 2014. The Flames had Devon Setoguchi, clearly on the downside of a once promising NHL career, as well as Markus Granlund who played 37 games with Calgary earlier this year. The seating bowl is steep and a concourse circles the top, with a few concession stands should you get hungry or thirsty.

The scoreboard has no video, but there are two large screens at opposite corners where low-quality replays are shown. Overall, this is a great throwback facility for hockey, but probably not up to AHL standards. The Flames are moving their affiliate to Stockton next season (where they will become the Heat) while the ECHL will take up residence in Glens Falls as the Adirondack Thunder. If you are hanging around in upstate New York during the winter, try to see a game here and experience hockey like it was 50 years ago.

The Game

I hoped that my wife would bring the Marlies some luck, but as mentioned, hope is for the foolish. Adirondack scored thrice on their first six shots, with goals by Setoguchi and Granlund sandwiching one from Max Reinhart. Just 8 minutes in and starter Antoine Bibeau was sent to the bench. Actually, he was sent to a chair right beside our seats as the benches are not big enough for the backup goalie. I thought the fans might heckle him but they left him alone, perhaps realizing that the poor man belongs to the sorriest franchise in the NHL these days. Bibeau was replaced by Christopher Gibson (below) who settled things down somewhat. Nylander got Toronto on the board with a nifty bank shot off a defenseman's skate midway through the period, only to see Brant Harris, making his first appearance on loan from Florida of the ECHL, score to send the Flames to the first intermission up 4-1.

Josh Leivo scored the only goal of the second period, jamming the puck behind Doug Carr, and when Nylander converted on a power play for his second of the game just 17 seconds into the third, the Marlies were suddenly within one. But 40 seconds after that Granlund scored his second on another Marlie defensive breakdown to restore the two-goal lead.

The Marlies didn't give up though, and Ryan Rupert, the Leafs 6th-round pick in 2012, tipped one over Carr's pad with 12 minutes left. The rest of the period saw Toronto attacking relentlessly as they peppered 20 shots on goal during the frame, but Carr prevented the tying tally and Adirondack held on for an exciting 5-4 win. Despite the unfavourable result for Toronto (something I am quite used to), a very enjoyable evening at an old-time barn. My wife, however, was not a convert to the beauty of minor league hockey.

The highlights are here should you be interested, Nylander's first goal is worth a look about a minute in and Troy Bodie is in a long fight around the two-minute mark.



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