April 1, 2014
TORONTO– It was far from his best outing of the season, but Drew MacIntyre was good enough on Sunday to lead his Marlies to a 6-4 win against the Abbotsford Heat and set a new single-season record for victories by a Marlies goaltender.
The 30-year-old stopped 30 shots, including 11 in the third period to earn his 27th victory of the season, surpassing former Toronto netminder Justin Pogge, who had 26 wins in 2007-08.
“It’s an honour, I don’t take stuff like that lightly,” MacIntyre said about setting the new record. I’ve been in this league a while so those type of things are nice.”
Toronto had to overcome a 3-1 deficit to squeak out the victory, with Josh Leivo breaking a 4-4 deadlock with the eventual winner in the third period.
MacIntyre allowed all four goals on 12 shots against in the second period, which he wasn’t happy about.
“I didn’t really like how I handled the second period mentally,” said MacIntyre. “A period like that, I’d like to take pride in that I can slow it down a little and I didn’t do that.”
The Charlottetown native is 27-15-3 in 47 starts this season with a 2.49 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. He is also second in the AHL in minutes played and shots faced.
“It’s known in our room that he’s the back bone of the hockey team,” said Marlies defenceman T.J. Brennan.
“He really embodies what this organization is all about, he’s a class act,” added Marlies head coach Steve Spott.
Prospect Tyler Biggs was the beneficiary of a lineup shuffle on Sunday and gave the Marlies a 4-3 lead against the Heat with his seventh goal of the season.
Predominantly used by Spott as a fourth liner and penalty killer, an injury to Spencer Abbott opened up a spot on the right wing for Biggs to move up and play alongside Josh Leivo and centre Trevor Smith.
The 2011 first-round pick has battled through his first full year in the AHL, missing games with an injury as well as time as a healthy scratch.
According to Spott, however, it hasn’t been for a lack of effort and more time is needed before understanding his true value to the future of the organization.
“He’s doing everything he can to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the future,” said Spott.
“He’s going in the right direction. I’ve talked to our management staff (and) it’s patience, that’s what this organization is doing. They’re staying patient with the young prospects and will see where they are two or three years from now.”
Despite being drafted so high, Biggs has been projected by Leaf management as a bottom-six “energy guy” who can contribute on the penalty kill. Most nights that he’s been in the lineup he has played with Jerred Smithson and a rotating left-winger.
In 53 games with the Marlies the 21-year-old has seven goals and nine points.
Spott had to juggle three goaltenders over the weekend and it isn’t clear when one will be sent back to Orlando of the ECHL because there is concern up top with the Maple Leafs.
Rookie Garret Sparks got the start on Saturday in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Iowa Wild with fellow rookie Christopher Gibson backing up. Then on Sunday Gibson backed up MacIntyre.
While one of the rookies, likely Gibson, will be sent down soon, Spott must wait for orders from above before a move can be made— even though Jonathan Bernier returned to the Leaf lineup from a groin injury Mar. 25 against the St. Louis Blues.
“Until we get the blessing from the Leafs with regards to the condition of both of their goaltenders, then we’ll make our adjustments accordingly,” said Spott. But right now (Leaf VP of Hockey Operations) Dave Poulin wants three goalies here for the time being.”