Viktor Loov, Connor Brown make impact to open AHL season

Viktor Loov scored twice, including the winner, in Toronto's 3-2 win against the Utica Comets on Sunday- Image Courtesy of Christian Bonin at TSGPhoto

Viktor Loov scored twice, including the winner, in Toronto’s 3-2 win against the Utica Comets on Sunday- Image Courtesy of Christian Bonin at TSGPhoto

October 13, 2014

TORONTO — He waited a long time to play, but he didn’t take long to make an impact.

Defenceman Viktor Loov, who didn’t get permission from his Swedish club Modo to join the Toronto Marlies until Oct. 9, made his North American debut this weekend for the AHL club.

The 21-year-old scored twice in Sunday’s 3-2 victory against the Utica Comets — including the winner in overtime — and led his team with six shots on net.

“He made his impact (yesterday in the season opener), but tonight he left his mark on the game,” said Marlies coach Gord Dineen. “Not only scoring the two goals, that was obvious, but he was a real presence every time he was on the ice.”

The six-foot-two 200-pound native of Sodertalje, Sweden was paired with Korbinian Holzer for the first two games of the season and seems to have found some chemistry with the veteran. Holzer and Andrew MacWilliam spent the majority of last season as a pairing, but Dineen likes what he sees from his new duo.

“(Viktor) and Korbinian were real solid, felt real strong when they were out there against the other team’s top line,” said Dineen.

MacWilliam was paired with another Swedish prospect, Tom Nilsson, to open the season.

Loov was unable to take part in the Marlies training camp prior to their season opener on Saturday because he was restricted contractually by Modo from joining the Marlies. He didn’t take part in team practices and skated on his own, leaving the ice when team practices began.

While the numbers may show he adapted quickly to the new league, he admits that the systems with the Marlies will take time to get used to.

“It’s been difficult, it’s a different kind of game,” said Loov. “Usually I try to hit the blade of my teammates but now it’s more flip it on the boards.

“Biggest difference is when I get the puck, I always got a guy behind me trying to hit me.”

Rookie Connor Brown broke into his AHL career the right way.

After a turnover in the Utica end caused by a forechecking Trevor Smith and Petri Kontiola in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Comets, Brown found Smith in the slot and fed him the pass for a goal. It was Brown’s first-career AHL point.

“I felt ok, it was nice to get the first point out of the way,” Brown said about his debut. “Felt better as the game went on.”

Brown was one of the more noticable players in Saturday’s loss — mostly for positive reasons. The 20-year-old right winger showed his ability to create plays and hold the puck when needed rather than just giving it away or dumping it in.

In Sunday’s victory Brown picked up another assist, this time on Loov’s third-period goal to tie the game 2-2.

“I thought he was good on both sides of the puck, he’s not just a one-trick pony,” Dineen said on Saturday. “He comes back hard, pursues pucks hard and made some real nice plays. That’s the beginning of a real good start for him.”

Brown, who was selected in the sixth round of the 2012 draft, won the Ontario Hockey League’s Most Outstanding Player award last season after scoring 45 goals and 128 points in 68 games with the Erie Otters.

KYLE CICERELLA

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