November 7, 2014
TORONTO– The Toronto Marlies have quickly found themselves turning to Christopher Gibson as their starting goaltender — at least for now.
Antoine Bibeau, who seemed to have an early edge on being the club’s starter, left the team on Thursday to head back home to Quebec for a funeral and is expected to be out of the lineup for Toronto’s next two games. Meanwhile, Garret Sparks was injured with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears and wasn’t available to be called up.
With Toronto’s two other goaltender prospects out of sight, Gibson is expected to carry the work load for the Marlies while they continue on their eight-game road trip. Cal Heeter has been signed to a pro-tryout contract to temporarily fill in as back-up.
“He sees the opportunity with multiple starts,” said Marlies coach Gord Dineen.
Gibson kept the Marlies alive on Wednesday night in a 3-1 loss to the Texas Stars as he turned away 34-of-36 shots in defeat.
In five starts this season the 21-year-old is 2-3-0 with a 2.55 goals-against average and .922 save percentage while facing 33.6 shots against per-outing. His win-loss record could be better except for the fact Toronto is averaging just 1.6 goals for per-game with him in net.
“He’s been a difference maker,” said Dineen. “Positionally he’s really sound and he gives us an opportunity every night.”
Bibeau is expected to rejoin the Marlies on the road and should be back in the lineup on Nov. 14 when Toronto faces the Rochester Americans.
In five starts the 20-year-old is 2-2-1 with a 1.68 goals-against average and .943 save percentage.
Sparks suffered a lower-body injury on Oct. 26 with the Solar Bears and could be out action until mid-November. Prior to his injury he was 2-0-0 with a 1.22 goals-against average and a .966 save percentage with one shutout in four games.
Heeter, who was invited to training camp in the fall before being cut, was 3-1-0 with a 2.24 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in four starts with the ECHL’s Evansville Icemen prior to signing a PTO.
Gibson’s next start will be Friday when the Marlies face the San Antonio Rampage.