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Toronto Marlies Edges Hamilton Bulldogs In Pre-Season Game In Oakville

Yes, Oakville. It’s the moment you have all been waiting for. For the first time in the town’s history, Sixteen Mile Sports Complex held a professional American Hockey League game, featuring the Toronto Marlies and the Hamilton Bulldogs. It was the first pre-season match up of the season between the two rivals, who are set to see each other in twelve regular season games during the upcoming campaign. The fans were treated to a ton of action early, witnessing three goals and a line brawl in just the opening ten minutes of the game, not uncommon in a Toronto/Hamilton match up. A penalty filled affair, Toronto would score two goals in the dying minutes of the game, earning their first win of the pre-season in as many games.

The Bulldogs were put in a hole very quickly in the match, allowing two goals within the first three minutes of the opening period. AHL veteran Jerry D’Amigo was able to capitalize on a nasty rebound allowed by rookie goaltender Mike Condon, making it 1-0 only minutes into the contest. Condon, a Princeton University grad who recently signed a entry level contract with the Montreal Canadiens, is a big goaltender known for having very sound rebound control, typically doesn’t allow goals like that. A minute later, Greg McKegg got a nice chance in front of the net and made no mistake, scoring his first of the pre-season to give Toronto the 2-0 early lead.

Toronto found themselves in penalty trouble following the second goal as 21 year old centre Andrew Crescenzi and former Leafs seventh rounder Andrew MacWilliam found their way to the box only seconds apart. Crescenzi managed to get out of the box without the Bulldogs creating much in terms of action in front of the net, but with one second remaining in MacWilliam’s slashing call, Chad Wiseman scored his first of the pre-season on a tip following a pass in front by camp invite Akim Aliu. On the ensuing face off, a small scrap between Petter Granberg and Kelsey Wilson resulted in a full-blown line brawl between the two squads. Granberg received five for fighting for the Marlies, while Wilson got two for instigating, five for fighting and a ten minute misconduct.

Hamilton was able to use the energy gained from the fisticuffs to their advantage. A nice shot from the blue line by Joel Chouinard was re-directed by long-shot Montreal prospect Erik Nystrom, tying the game at two apiece.

It only took seven minutes in the second for the Marlies to re-gain their second lead of the night.  Former Springfield Falcons forward Wade MacLeod, who was signed a PTO just last week,  tipped a Sam Carrick point shot past Condon to put the Marlies ahead with the 3-2 lead.  It was a big goal for MacLeod, who collapsed in a game against the Adirondack Phantoms last year following a hit while playing as a member of the Springfield Falcons.

Condon, who played in five games last year with the Houston Aeros, was on top of his game following the first two goals early in the game. Midway through the period, while down a man, Condon kept the puck out with an amazing diving cross-crease save, keeping the deficit at one. At the other end, Garrett Sparks replaced Gibson at the halfway mark of the second and would face a ton of Hamilton shots in the remainder of the middle frame, many as a result of Hamilton power-plays. However, just like Condon, Sparks was impressive between the pipes, not allowing any rubber to get past him in the ten minutes of action he saw in the period.

The third period featured lots of back and forth action for the first ten minutes. With twelve minutes remaining, Hamilton’s Andre Morrissette made a fantastic diving effort in the corner beside Sparks before getting the puck right on to the blade of Jared Owens and in the twine. Unfortunately, a strange no goal call meant Toronto would stick with the 3-2 lead, however that wouldn’t last as Stefan Fournier blasted one past Sparks on the very next shift, tying it up at three.

While two pucks managed to find their way past Sparks (only one that counted, of course), Condon was sharp on the other end during the third. His glove hand was on fire throughout the night, and another diving glove save on an opposing player in front of the net was icing on the cake.

The Marlies continued to pour on the pressure in the second half of the final twenty minutes of action, even while on the penalty kill. After killing off a two minute minor for high sticking late in the period, Dylan Yeo managed to spring Carrick on a nice one on one situation, but couldn’t get past the Hamilton defenseman. Spencer Abbott would finally get rewarded for Toronto’s persistence, scoring a nice goal on Condon’s blocker side to take the valuable lead late in the game. A terrible Hamilton giveaway in the neutral zone on the next face off would allow D’Amigo to pot his second of the night, an easy empty netter to give Toronto the two goal advantage. Wilson managed to get in his second scrap of the night, taking on Carrick with only 14 second remaining in the game. The score would hold up, with Toronto taking the 5-3 final victory.

Don’t forget, tonight’s event was the kick off for the OJHL Governor's Showcase, taking place at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex in Oakville, Ontario. Come out and watch all twenty-two teams take to the ice in front of scouts from around North America in a two-day hockey spectacular!