February 3, 2014
TORONTO- Head coach Steve Spott could tell that his club had nothing left to give when they suited up for the third time in three days on the road.
After playing in Oklahoma City and San Antonio, Toronto entered Cedar Park, Texas with a fatigued and depleted lineup to face the Texas Stars.
The Marlies were outplayed from the opening faceoff and suffered their worst loss of the season as the Stars cruised to a 6-0 victory.
“When you run a car that hard the tires go flat and the gas runs out,” Spott told LeafsTV post-game. “As a coach there are times you can get at your guys, but this isn’t a night to do that. They’ve played extremely hard and I’m proud of them. We just simply run out of gas.”
The Marlies faced numerous challenges against the Stars and were only able to produce two shots in the third period, being outshot 49-19 overall.
With Greg McKegg summoned by the Maple Leafs on Friday, the Marlies played their second straight game with only two natural centremen, Sam Carrick and Jerred Smithson. And because Smithson was ejected the previous game for boarding, Carrick was coming into the contest extra tired after spending 26 minutes against the San Antonio Rampage as the only centreman in Toronto’s lineup.
“Hopefully we’ll get some real enforcement with bodies, but right now we have a fatigued group mentally and physically,” said Spott.
While the performance against Texas was one Spott would rather forget, the same can’t be said for his club’s effort Saturday against the Rampage.
Right-winger Brandon Kozun, who was acquired Jan. 22nd for centre Andrew Crescenzi, scored twice including the winner and added an assist as Toronto edged San Antonio 4-3 in overtime.
Right-winger Spencer Abbott and defenceman T.J. Brennan both earned assists on Kozun’s goals.
“Our skilled guys took over in overtime,” said Spott.
“It felt good,” Kozun said about his first two goals in a Marlies uniform. “(But) I have to give it to my teammates, they put me in real good spots and luckily I put it in…We have some skilled players out there, Abbott made a couple real nice plays to me.”
Prospect Tyler Biggs was also a player Spott was impressed with in the win as the 20-year-old was playing just his second game since returning from an undisclosed injury.
“There’s lots of opportunity right now. Tyler Biggs scored a big goal, had a fight and again played at the level we expect him to play at,” said Spott. “He’s been hurt and it’s nice to see him come back and contribute in a positive way.”
Toronto opened their mini-road trip against the Oklahoma City Barons with a 5-3 loss. Abbott was Toronto’s bright spot with two goals and an assist.
The Marlies spent Sunday travelling back to Toronto and will start preparing on Monday for their next game, which is Wednesday when they host San Antonio.
Spott did not comment on if his club would practice before Wednesday’s tilt, hiniting that rest seemed to be the best cure coming off the road.
The Marlies play their next 10 games at the Ricoh Coliseum and won’t be on the road again until the first week of March.