The Toronto Marlies got off a plane yesterday from Scotland where on Sunday they lost 1-0 to the Hamilton Bulldogs in the Gardiner Cup final.
This four-team tournament, running from Sept. 24-27, was hosted by the Edinburgh Capitals, the lone Scottish team in the United Kingdom’s Ice Hockey Elite League.
It was named after goaltender Charles ‘Chuck’ Gardiner, an Edinburgh native who won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks and who in 1945 became the first Scot to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Despite the loss, Marlies coach Dallas Eakins was relatively happy with his team’s performance.
“I do think we carried the play through the second and third [period],” he told Leafs TV. “I do think we were physical and I thought we were dominating them with our body.
“Although I don’t like losing I was encouraged by our play.”
With the AHL regular season around the corner the newly hired bench boss says that he liked the competitive fire the Marlies showed during their time in Europe.
“The big thing for me is how we competed … full 60 minute [efforts]. I am encouraged by that,” Eakins said.
On Wednesday, the Marlies continue their exhibition play in Oshawa versus the Bulldogs in preparation for Sunday’s season opener versus Hamilton at Ricoh Colliseum.
At this point, the team is still in flux with players in the midst of being sent down from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“The mindset now is to see who’s coming from the big team,” Eakins said. “We’re going to wait and have to make some hard decisions after our game on Wednesday.”
Forward Jiri Tlusty could be the latest Leaf on the way to the AHL team after being outplayed by newcomer Viktor Stalberg during NHL pre-season action.
Tlusty was a star for the Marlies in 2008-2009, scoring a career-high 25 goals and 66 points, and could be a welcome addition to the forward units.
According to Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson, NCAA college product Tyler Bozak who had one goal and three assists in five Maple Leaf pre-season games, may also see some time in a Marlies uniform.
“He’ll probably have to go down because of numbers. Based on the way he played in training camp he’s certainly worthy of playing in the NHL but we may not have room at the beginning,” he said.