Toronto who? We might be unimportant this side of the border and we’ve had our share of difficulty against Toronto in the past, but the Amerks showed the Marlies we can play at their level. Just 9 seconds into the first period, before half the fans even had a chance to settle into their seats, Catenacci stuffed one home with a sensational setup from Ellis and Hutchings. Catenacci’s goal set the tone for the evening. Second period aside, Toronto was playing catch-up all night. Was the first goal a fluke? Luke Adam answered that question at 9:46 when he blazed a shot past Toronto goalie Garrett Sparks for a gorgeous top corner goal. Adam’s game has dramatically improved this season. He looks more confident. He’s taking shots. More importantly he’s scoring. Adam leads the Amerks in both goals (4) and shots on goal (19). Friday night’s first period easily represented the Amerks best period of the season. They played commanding hockey and dominated the tough-to-beat Marlies.
More second period woes
The second period was thoroughly uninspired. A different Amerks team took to the ice. They sat back on their heels. They let the Marlies have (and control) the puck. The first 5 minutes of the second period were spent in the Amerks zone. The Marlies would get their only goal in the second. With 3:58 remaining Toronto’s MacLeod found a hole through Lieuwen, who played an exceptional game. The Marlies might have been able to stage a comeback had it not been for Lieuwen’s unshakable composure in net–something we haven’t seen much of this season from Hackett. The Amerks escaped the second period with just one goal against. Lieuwen was the only reason Toronto didn’t come out of the second period tied or even up one. Thankfully the Amerks showed up for the third period and stuffed another pair home (Ellis and Varone).
Shooting is still a problem
There isn’t a whole lot to say here. SHOOT, DAMN IT! The Amerks have just 82 shots in 4 games. Luke Adam has taken 19 of them. That makes Adam responsible for 23% of all Amerks shooting. Adam has 4 goals. Shooting equals goals. Follow Luke’s Lead! The next highest shooting player on the Amerks is Tardif (7) who has 1 goal this season.
There’s no doubt this debate will rage on most of the season. Buffalo wants to groom Hackett to play upstairs. Lieuwen is ready for the #1 spot right now. There’s no doubt in my mind that had Hackett been in net during the second period against Toronto last night the final score would be very different. Hackett has had trouble maintaining his composure in net. When he’s on, he’s on. When he’s off, the flood gates open. You can teach positioning. You can’t teach mental togetherness. Lieuwen earned another start against Utica tonight. I hope he gets it.
The Amerks take to the ice against their newest rivals the Utica Comets tonight at 7:05pm.