Marlies lose Abbott to injury, D’Amigo all about perseverance

Spencer Abbott was helped off the ice by teammates on Sunday after taking a hit from St John’s Ice Caps’ defenceman Zach Redmond- Image Courtesy of Christian at TSGPhoto

December 16, 2013

TORONTO-The Toronto Marlies could be heading out on the road without their top scorer.

Spencer Abbott left Sunday’s game against the St John’s IceCaps after taking a hit from Zach Richmond and it’s unclear  if he will be ready to play on Wednesday when Toronto heads to Rochester to face the Americans.

Late in the first period Abbott crashed into the end boards after being shoved by Redmond in St John’s zone. While the exact injury wasn’t clear at the post-game scrum, it was evident that his right leg was injured as he needed to be helped by teammates off the ice. Redmond was given a boarding minor on the play.

“(It’s a) lower-body injury, I won’t get into details because it’s vague right now,” said Marlies head coach Steve Spott. “It’s not a high-ankle sprain, which I was worried about.”

Toronto plays its next three games on the road and, with the club’s offence struggling, the loss of Abbott could weigh heavily. The Marlies are limited on skilled guys up front and are already without Greg McKegg, who has been sidelined with an upper-body injury since late November.

“Spencer Abbott and Josh Leivo can play a certain style, the other ten forwards can’t play that way,” Spott said with regards to his team’s makeup.

Abbott had a goal and two assists in Friday’s 4-1 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs and leads the team with 25 points in 23 games.

The Marlies next practice is Tuesday and an update on Abbott’s status is expected.

Spott is more than familiar with how much effort Jerry D’Amigo has put in to earning his first call-up to the Maple Leafs.

And the coach couldn’t have been more pleased when the 22-year-old scored his first NHL goal on Saturday in Toronto’s 7-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

“Hashtag perseverance. If I was going to tweet something that’s what it would be,” said Spott. “He’s been here three-plus years now, he’s given a lot of blood and sweat to this organization and he’s being rewarded for it.”

While D’Amigo has been a valuable asset with the Marlies, it wasn’t like that in the beginning. In his rookie campaign, as a 19-year-old, D’Amigo struggled often and ended up finishing the 2011 season under Spott with the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers.

D’Amigo learned from Spott and his experience in junior and has proved it the past three AHL seasons carving out a role as a reliable penalty killer and grinder that can skate well and contribute offensively when given the opportunity.

The difference in D’Amigo’s game from 2011 is drastic, according to Spott.

“He’s playing like an NHL player right now. Credit to him and Dallas Eakins for the job he’s done the last three years.”

KYLE CICERELLA

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