Oct. 9th, 2013
TORONTO– The Toronto Marlies are expecting to use their ECHL affiliate, the Orlando Solar Bears, as early as this week.
Marlies head coach Steve Spott said on Tuesday that he and Leafs management have already had talks regarding sending players to the ECHL and that the club has too many guys to fit into Toronto’s lineup on a regular basis.
“We’re there now. We’re discussing as a staff, Dave (Poulin) and Claude (Loiselle) some player movement that will have to take place to clean up the numbers, especially on our back end,” said Spott. “We have way too many guys right now.”
With the Leafs re-calling forwards Josh Leivo and David Broll along with defenceman T.J. Brennan on Wednesday, and returning forwards Trevor Smith and Jamie Devane, the Marlies are left with 26 players on their roster.
Prior to the season Marlies GM Dave Poulin noted that he wanted the Marlies to carry 14 forwards, eight defenceman and two goaltenders. So it’s likely that only one blue liner and a netminder will find themselves being demoted to the ECHL.
In the Marlies opening weekend Spott scratched defencemen Kevin Marshall, Jesse Blacker, Dylan Yeo and Zach Yuen. Considering Yeo and Yuen are both on AHL contracts, they seem to be the suitable candidates to head to Florida along with goalie Christopher Gibson.
The Solar Bears season offically starts Oct. 18th. Currently they are in pre-season action.
Andrew MacWilliam led college hockey last season in penalty minutes, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the box on occasion as a pro.
However, it only took the opening weekend of the AHL season for him to jump out to an early league lead with 24 penalty minutes in just two games.
“I’d rather tame a tiger and that’s what he is,” Spott said. “I think there are some habits from college with his stick he’ll have to get used to, and using his arm. Those are some areas he’ll have to define for pro, but I love the compete-level and the battle. He’s a natural leader and we don’t want to harness that.”
In the season opener against Grand Rapids on Saturday, the 23-year-old was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for boarding Teemu Pulkkinen from behind in the Marlies zone.
Then on Sunday he picked up two minors and fought Guillaime Desbiens as the Marlies beat Lake Erie.
While MacWilliam admitted he thought his hit on Pulkkinen could have been from behind, he says he has no intention of changing the way he uses his 6-foot-2 230-pound frame. Fact is, he’s made it this far in hockey by being physical and he isn’t going to start second guessing plays.
“There’s no doubt it was probably a hit from behind, my momentum just followed through,” said MacWilliam. “The refs thought that it was a five-minute major and you can’t change that.
“Hockey’s such a fast game. At that point there’s no stopping. It’s just an unfortunate play. I have to play physical so I’m always on my toes and more likely than not I’m finishing my check.”
While video of MacWilliam’s hit on Pulkkinen is currently unavailable below are two hits MacWilliam laid in college which led to game misconducts.