Maple Leafs get early lead, but fall to Penguins in shootout
( Kitchener, ON ) – Three first period goals proved insufficient as the Maple Leafs’ prospect squad was edged 6-5 in a shootout by Pittsburgh in game one of the four day rookie tournament on Friday evening at Kitchener’s Memorial Auditorium.
Former Toronto St. Michael’s Major Darryl Boyce gave Toronto an early lead with the team’s first of two power-play goals at 8:32 of the opening frame. Michel Leveille and Todd Perry earned assists on the play. Boyce finished second in team scoring as a member of the 2007 CIS champion University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds last season.
Robbie Earl gave Toronto a 2-0 lead just over two minutes later when he snapped a backhand shot past starting Penguins netminder David Brown. 2006-07 Marlies’ teammate Alex Foster earned the lone assist on the play. Toronto got their second goal of the period from a Prince Edward Island born player when Geoff Walker made it 3-0 at 14:34.
Highly touted defensive prospect Anton Stralman added to the lead when he scored his first of the tournament 57 seconds into the middle stanza. The unassisted goal, a low wrist shot from high in the slot, was Stralman’s second point of the evening. He was one of two Toronto players with multi-point nights in the tournament’s opening contest. The Penguins cut the lead to 4-1 when Mark Letestu fired a high snap shot past Justin Pogge’s outstretched glove at 4:09. Letestu converted a perfect cross crease pass from Tyler Kennedy, who along with former Mississauga IceDog Luca Caputi, had an assist on the play.
The Penguins were unable to convert what was almost a full two minute five-on-three man advantage to begin the third period. Shortly thereafter they saw the Toronto lead restored to four when Walker redirected a point pass from Phil Oreskovic at 5:38 for his second goal of the evening. 2007 draftee Chris DiDomenico also earned an assist.
Pittsburgh then rallied for three consecutive goals by Dustin Jeffrey, Kris Letang and Alex Grant respectively as they pulled to within one with just over eight minutes remaining in regulation time. Pogge made a number of quality saves in the late going to preserve what looked to be a one goal Toronto victory. However, Jeffrey scored his second goal of the evening with 31 seconds to play in the third period to send the game to overtime.
The Pens had the best scoring chance in the extra session as Tim Wallace rang a shot off the inside of the goal post with Toronto’s Leveille in the penalty box on an interference call. In the shootout, Brown stopped both Toronto attempts (Jiri Tlusty, Brent Aubin) while Tyler Kennedy scored the lone goal enabling Pittsburgh to complete the come comeback.
Toronto went 2-4 on the power-play while the Penguins were scoreless in seven attempts. Toronto plays their second game of the weekend tournament when they face-off against Ottawa on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
In earlier action on Friday, Florida Panther prospects defeated the Senators 2-1.
1. TOR D. Boyce (1) Leveille & Perry @ 8:32 PP 2. TOR R. Earl (1) Foster @ 10:33 3. TOR G. Walker (1) Stralman & D. Mitchell @ 14:34
4. TOR A. Stralman (1) unassisted @ 0:57 PP 5. PIT M. Letestu (1) Kennedy & Caputi @ 4:09
6. TOR G. Walker (2) Oreskovic & DiDomenico @ 5:38 7. PIT D. Jeffrey (1) Stone @ 7:43 8. PIT K. Letang (1) Stone & Jeffrey @ 11:02 9. PIT A. Grant (1) unassisted @ 11:43 10. PIT D. Jeffrey (2) Stone & Letang @ 19:29