T.J. Brennan’s hat trick led the Toronto Marllies to their third-straight win to start the season, Saturday afternoon at the Ricoh Centre.
It was his second hat trick in a week and the margin of victory in a 6-3 win over the visiting St. John’s IceCaps.
Brennan opened the scoring for the Marlies (3-0) on a terrific rush. With Jullian Melchiori in the box for boarding, Brennen broke in on the IceCap defence and cut through the middle to beat IceCaps’ goaltender Jussi Olkinuora glove side.
John-Michael Liles assisted on the play.
Brennan quickly made it 2-0 with his sixth goal of the season less than two minutes later. After Olkinoura (0-1-0) stopped Mike Duco’s shot, a streaking Brennan was there to pounce on the rebound in the slot and beat the IceCap goaltender with a snapshot blocker side.
Stefan Legein’s first of the season made it 5-3 for Toronto. Legein picked up the puck after it was chipped in by Brennan and beat Olkinuora glove side with a snapshot at 12:06 of the third.
Brennan scored his AHL leading seventh goal with an empty netter to cap it for Toronto.
The IceCaps were out shot 33-24.
St. John’s (1-2-1) cut into Toronto’s lead in the first when Andrew Gordon deflected a shot from J.C. Lipon that appeared to sneak through Drew MacIntyre’s pads.
They tied it a minute and a half later on the powerplay with two Marlies in the box. Sam Carrick received a double minor for roughing and Spencer Abbott was called for slashing at 8:02.
It did not take long for the IceCaps to convert as they moved the puck well in the Marlies end.
Brenden Kichton found Kael Mouillierat down low to MacIntyre’s (3-0-0) left and Mouillierat set up Will O’Neill in the slot who beat MacIntyre glove side for his first of the season at 8:40.
The Ice Caps took the lead just over five minutes later with another power play goal.
Jerome Samson’s second of the season came with plenty of traffic in front of the Marlies’ goal. Samson fired the puck towards the net and beat a screened MacIntyre blocker side 13:49 of the first.
Jason Jaffray and Adam Lowry picked the assists.
The Marlies were awarded a two-man advantage of their own after Patrice Cormier and Ben Chiarot were called for minors six seconds apart, but were unable to beat Olkinuora and when they did, they hit a post.
Shots were even at 13 apiece after the first period.
Teams settled down in second
Both teams played well defensively during the first half of the second period as the teams combined for just four shots. Each club was awarded a powerplay, but neither team was able to generate many scoring chances with the man advantage.
Toronto began to take over the game during the second half of the second.
They came close to tying it with just under seven minutes remaining in the second, but Olkinuora was able to get a right pad from in tight on just their fourth shot of the period.
With Melchiori called for high-sticking, Liles’ first of the season tied it at three with a shot from the point that may have deflected off an IceCaps defender as the puck appeared to dip and snuck in between Olkinuora’s right pad and blocker at 15:28 of the period.
Toronto regained the lead with under a minute a minute left in the period.
MacLeod picked up a rebound and elevated a loose puck over a sprawling Olkinuora by going forehand to backhand for his first of the season at 19:06.
Abbott and Trevor Smith picked up their second assists of the period on the goal.
St. John’s were out shot 12-4 in the second.
Notes: St. John’s Eric O’Dell’s four goals led all IceCap skaters entering Saturday’s game … Marlies’ defenceman Andrew MacWilliam’s had 24 penalty minutes coming in, two more than the entire roster had accumulated … Marlies Jamie Devane, Kenny Ryan, Kevin Marshall, and Jesse Blacker were scratches for Toronto … Kris Fredheim, Kyle MacKinnon, Zach Redmond, Blair Riley, Jordan Hill, Cody Lampl, and Austen Brassard were scratches for the IceCaps … 2,756 was the announced attendance.