May 5, 2014
TORONTO- In their first round sweep of the Milwaukee Admirals, the Toronto Marlies had numerous players step up when needed.
Sam Carrick scored three goals in the first two games and Josh Leivo had a goal and two assists. But it was one line in particular that stood out to head coach Steve Spott over the others.
“I think Trevor Smith has taken his game up to a new level and I thought the (Jerry) D’Amigo (Brandon) Kozun line with Trevor was excellent the whole series,” said Spott after Game 3.
Smith, the team captain who only played 24 games this season with the Marlies because of time spent with the Maple Leafs, had five assists in the three-game set while Brandon Kozun broke out in Game 2 with two goals and an assist after going goalless in 16 contests. D’Amigo recorded two goals and four assists to lead the team in scoring.
D’Amigo, who has played his best in the playoffs—with 28 points in 29 games over the past three Calder Cup runs, set up the winning goal in each of the three games against Milwaukee, including Greg McKegg’s second period goal in Game 3’s 2-0 victory.
“It was just a great pass by Jerry, he found me and I was lucky enough to put it in,” McKegg said about his goal that was scored on the power play.
Toronto, which outscored the Admirals 13-4 in the series, got quality play in each game from their back end. And any scoring chance given up was turned aside by goaltender Drew MacIntyre, who stopped 85-of-89 shots in the series.
“I thought we did a pretty good job of keeping guys away from (MacIntyre) and I thought he saw a lot of the pucks, but there were a couple saves where he needed to be great,” said Spott.
“He really is the oil that drives this machine.”
With numerous forwards on the roster, Spott made minor changes to the lineup when needed. Tyler Biggs played in the first two games, but when Carter Ashton was ready to return for Game 3 the rookie was the odd man out.
Brad Ross, however, dressed for all three despite the fact it looked like he could have easily been a healthy scratch.
The 21-year-old, who struggled in his sophomore season and at one point found himself in the ECHL, stuck it out in the bottom-six and even though he didn’t record a point, he didn’t cost the team either. Spott chose to keep him in the lineup for one reason.
“He drove everybody including us crazy this series,” said Spott. “He’s playing that pest and agitator role and didn’t take penalties.”
The Marlies will start Round 2 on Friday against the Chicago Wolves—affiliate of the St. Louis Blues—and will be a stronger team depth wise than the one that swept Milwaukee.
Toronto played the first round without forwards Spencer Abbott and Peter Holland because of injury. Spott confirmed both would have been ready against Milwaukee if a fourth game was needed and that both will be ready to go for Game 1 against Chicago.
“If I needed them they would have played (Game 4), but thankfully we didn’t need them,” said Spott. “They’ll both be ready for next round.”