April 18, 2014
TORONTO-The Marlies coaching staff have given prospect Stuart Percy a simple task—shoot the puck more.
Percy entered Wednesday’s game against the Binghamton Senators with only two goals in 68 games, averaging just 1.29 shots on net per-game.
Against the Senators, however, Percy had a season-high five shots on net and scored twice as the Marlies pulled out a 5-4 victory in overtime.
“With Stu, we’ve been on him all year to use his shot more,” head coach Steve Spott told LeafsTV post-game. “He’s a pass-first mentality, but it’s nice to see the reward.”
Percy opened the scoring in the first period with his first goal in 19 games and then forced overtime with his second of the night midway through the third period. Both goals came on the power play and were set up by the club’s leading scorer T.J. Brennan.
“On the power play, if I’m working up top (the coaches) are definitely encouraging me to shoot from there,” said Percy.
The 6-foot-1, 193-pound rookie spent the majority of the season on the second power-play unit alongside Korbinian Holzer because Spott wanted Percy setting up Holzer for one-timers—which has led to a career-high five goals this season for the German defender. But Percy was recently moved up to the top unit alongside Brennan with the goal of creating more offence for himself.
At 20-years-old, the first-round pick from 2011 is the youngest defenceman on the roster and has quietly put together a solid rookie campaign, but there’s still work to be done.
“He’s had a good year, safe puck-moving defenceman, his passing ability is as good as anyone’s in the AHL,” said Spott. “The challenge for Stu every day is to work on his quickness and physical strength.
“He’s a great prospect for the organization.”
Percy is second in scoring for Toronto defenceman with four goals and 24 points in 69 games.
Brennan, who scored the winner in extra time against the Senators, not only leads the Marlies in scoring, but is the top producer of any blue liner in the AHL with 24 goals and 72 points in 74 games. He was given with the Eddie Shore award as the league’s top defenceman on Wednesday prior to his three-point effort.
The Marlies will face the Utica Comets tonight in their second-last regular-season game before the playoffs begin.