- The comeback is complete.
Brent Aubin scored a pair of goals as the Toronto Marlies became the 14th team in American Hockey League history to overcome a 3-1 series deficit, dropping the Syracuse Crunch 3-2 in Game 7 of the North Division final.
|Graig Abel Photography |
Aubin, entered Monday's action with just two goals in 13 playoff games, but he doubled that total to spark the Marlies offence. His linemate Alex Foster chipped in two assists and John Mitchell got the insurance marker in the third to send a raucous crowd of 4,753 at Ricoh Coliseum home happy.
Gilbert Brule and Derek MacKenzie answered for Syracuse, which dropped a third straight one-goal decision to Toronto.
The Marlies, now 4-0 when facing elimination this post-season, have advanced to the Calder Cup's final four and will face either the Chicago Wolves or Rockford IceHogs in the Western Conference final.
The Marlies ruined the prediction of Crunch captain Zenon Konopka, who was quoted in a Syracuse newspaper as saying his team would win Game 7 after losing Game 6 on home ice.
Scott Clemmensen turned aside 23 shots in the Toronto goal.
Aubin's two first-period goals gave Toronto a 2-1 advantage midway through the opening period. The Marlies carried the bulk of the play, but Syracuse goalie Karl Goehring made save after save to keep his team within a goal.
Mitchell lobbed a seeing-eye shot from the side boards that floated through a crowd and over Goehring's shoulder to give the Toronto a two-goal cushion 7:20 into the third.
The Marlies needed that buffer as Brule one-timed a shot past Clemmensen with just over eight minutes remaining in the game.
There were some tense moments late in the game for Toronto, including a late penalty, but the Marlies managed to hang on and complete their improbable comeback.
The game opened with 10 frantic minutes that saw three goals scored and numerous solid bodychecks levied.
|Graig Abel Photography |
Aubin got his first of the night after a careless giveaway by Syracuse defenseman Marc Methot. Foster picked Methot's weak clearing attempt along the side boards, threw the puck on goal and Aubin tipped it home.
But MacKenzie, who had four goals and 10 points in the series, answered back just 41 seconds later, whipping a backhander over Clemmensen's glove and just under the crossbar.
Both teams continued to generate chances and the Marlies broke through again when Aubin got the puck in the slot on his backhand, pivoted and ripped a shot to the back of the net. The chance was created by the aggressive forecheck Aubin and his linemates Foster and Stefano Giliati threw at the Crunch every time they hit the ice.
The Marlies now await the winner of Game 7 between Chicago and Rockford on Tuesday night.
NOTES: Neither team scored a power play goal The Crunch have lost five straight Game 7s The three-game losing streak was Syracuse's first since October