OSHAWA, ONT. - Despite carrying the play most of the night the Chicago Blackhawks fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs in their opening game of the Rookie Tournament by a 4-2 score.
The Blackhawks were up against a pro-Leafs crowd of 3,739 in Oshawa, a suburb of Toronto, but the team was able to put together a solid effort.
The game kicked off with high intensity as players on both sides were trying to prove to management they deserve a spot at the next level. The physical play continued throughout the night in a game that featured plenty of hits, fights and post-whistle scrums.
Both teams jousted for position before Leafs forward Jamie Devane opened the scoring eighteen minutes into the first frame. Blackhawks goaltender Mac Carruth made a solid save on a tip out front, but Devane was able to knock in the rebound, giving Toronto the 1-0 advantage.
The Blackhawks kept pressuring the Leafs and were able to get on the board midway through the 2nd period on a goal by Christopher DiDomenico, who was able to fire the puck home off a great pass from 2011 2nd round pick Brandon Saad from behind the net.
DiDomenico was able to the return the favor in the 3rd period after a strong drive to the net resulted in Saad scoring his first of the tournament to give the Blackhawks the 2-1 advantage with a little over twelve minutes to play.
The game seemed to be in control but the Leafs were able to tie the game up following a costly turnover that ended up on the stick of Leafs prospect Kenny Ryan, who scored on a great shot from the bottom of the circle.
That awoke the fans in attendance and the Leafs were able to score twice more in the final five minutes with a pair of goals by defenseman Jake Gardiner to seal the 4-2 victory for Toronto.
Despite the loss Carruth was impressive in net making some solid saves. Elmhurst native Garret Sparks earned the win in net for the Leafs as he split time with fellow prospect Mark Owuya.
Hawks 1st round pick this past June Phillip Danualt was impressive in the contest, creating numerous chances including a great play in the 2nd period where he split the two defenders and nearly scored a one-handed goal.
The Blackhawks will be right back in action Sunday afternoon at 1 pm at the General Motors Centre when they face the Ottawa Senators. The Senators won their first game of the tournament 4-0 over the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier on Saturday.