January 2, 2015
TORONTO– Rookie defenceman Matt Finn is back with the Marlies after spending some time in the ECHL fine tuning his game.
The 20-year-old blue liner was sent down to the Orlando Solar Bears back in December after having a difficult beginning to the AHL season in Toronto. Finn dressed in eight games with Orlando and was recalled by the Marlies on Thursday.
“It’s just a confidence thing for me,” Finn told reporters. “I wasn’t playing my game when I was (with Toronto). I was thinking too much and trying too much to make myself perfect. I have to take it shift by shift, you can’t think about the end goal but every day getting better.”
Finn, who was selected by Toronto 35th overall in 2012, missed the first seven games of the AHL season with an injury and never got into the every-day lineup with the Marlies before being sent down on Dec. 11.
Head coach Gord Dineen paired Finn at times with Petter Granberg as well as Andrew MacWilliam with the hope of getting him comfortable with the pro game, however it never happened in his first go-around with the Marlies. In 14 games, Finn produced just one assist, was minus-2 with just 17 shots on net.
“You’re playing against men, it’s an adjustment period,” said Finn. “It hasn’t gone as smooth as I’d like obviously but every day you have to come to the rink and learn.”
Finn, six-foot 197 pounds, was drafted by the Maple Leafs becuase of his ability to play a two-way game while adding some offence. In his final season of junior with the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm, the Toronto native produced 14 goals and 61 points in 66 contests as he captained his team into the Memorial Cup.
With Orlando, Finn upped his shots-on-net average to almost three a game and scored his first pro goal on Dec. 28, his last outing before being summoned by the Marlies.
“It’s been a long time (since scoring). In junior I was always an offensive defenceman, waiting this long for your first one is a little tough,” said Finn.
The Marlies made other transactions on Thursday, sending defenceman Blake Kessel and forwards Carson MacMillan and Denver Manderson back to Orlando while recalling winger Patrick Watling. In eight games with the Solar Bears, Watling produced four goals and eight points.
Defenceman Brendan Mikkelson also rejoined the Marlies after spending the past week with the Canadian national team at the Spengler Cup.
The Marlies currently have nine defenceman on their roster, but Stuart Percy is still listed day-to-day with what could be a concussion. He hasn’t played since being on the wrong end of a hit against Milwaukee on Dec. 20.