January 13, 2013
TORONTO– Marlies head coach Steve Spott could see it coming.
In the second game of a back-to-back in St. John’s against the IceCaps on Saturday, tempers flared early and just 25 seconds after the opening faceoff Marlies forward David Broll dropped the gloves to set the tone for what would be a gritty opening 20 minutes.
Before the horn sounded for first intermission, Jamie Devane, Wade MacLeod and Andrew Crescenzi took their turns earning fighting majors, each dropping the mitts within the span of 2:50.
“We talked about it, there might be some bad blood that carried over and sure enough there was,” said Spott.
In the first meeting on Friday Brad Staubitz and Andrew MacWilliam set the tone for the mini-series by taking their turns scrapping. In the end the Marlies came away with three of four points on the road, which pleased the head coach.
“It was nice to see the physicality of our group,” said Spott.
Hockey Fights lists Toronto as 19th in the AHL in fights with 29, or 0.83 per game. While the club is far from the league-leading Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who have 65 fighting majors this season, dropping the gloves is what the Marlies do and 14 different players have done it at least once trying to prove so.
“We’re a team that plays with a lot of passion and a lot of compete and that’s part of our identity,” said Spott.
On any given occasion Spott has numerous options to send out that will fight.
Devane leads the club with six fighting majors, Broll has five and Staubitz and MacWilliam have duked it out on three occasions. When healthy, Mike Duco likes to throw the fists and Troy Bodie is another regular who won’t shy away from a fight- although he has only dropped the gloves once with the Marlies compare to three times with the Maple Leafs.
Spott made it clear early in the season that with Toronto limited on offensive skill, it would be hard forechecking, finishing checks, grit and toughness that would bring the Marlies success.
And his club has bought into this belief as they are 20-11-4 and top spot in the North Division.
“We’re more of a chip entry and grind it out type of team,” said Spott.
The Marlies are currently on pace for 65 fighting majors this season, which would be the most since 2009-10 when they had 95.
Tyler Biggs, Kenny Ryan, Sam Carrick, Korbinian Holzer, Brad Ross and T.J Brennan have also received fighting majors this year.