TORONTO - His name didn't show up on the scoresheet, but Mark Fraser may have made the biggest contribution in another win for the Toronto Marlies.
Five different players scored for Toronto en route to a 5-2 win over the Rockford IceHogs in American Hockey League action Saturday afternoon at Ricoh Colisem.
Fraser had no points, but his huge hit and two fights in the first period set the tone for Toronto in a very physical game.
With his team up 1-0 early in the game, Fraser made a big, clean hit at the Marlies blue-line and was forced to fight twice in the period because of it. The IceHogs sought revenge for the hit and were also looking to make the Marlies play a tough, physical game.
"It's my game, it's what I bring to the table," Fraser said. "Everyone contributes in different ways, but I'm a big physical body and I just like playing that style.
"I tried to prove a point defending myself. I'll stand up for myself and my teammates, but there's always a time and a place for it."
Paul Ranger, Mike Zigomanis, Kenny Ryan, Ryan Hamilton and Joe Colborne each scored for Toronto. Ben Scrivens made 33 saves for his 14th win of the season.
Mike Kostka had three assists.
But it was Fraser's toughness early that set the tone for Toronto in a game that had 70 minutes in penalties.
"He's as tough as they come," said Marlies coach Dallas Eakins. "He's a guy that gives our team confidence when the game gets tough and he's able to inspire our team as well.
"This guy, I wish we had him for years. When we picked him up last year (at the trade deadline), I couldn't believe we never had a defenceman like this. It was a great trade by our management and the kind of guy that has fit into our organization perfectly. . . We want good character, hard-nosed people and that's what Mark Fraser is."
Marcus Kruger and Brandon Bollig replied for Rockford. Carter Hutton stopped 27 shots in defeat.
The win gives Toronto a three-game winning streak and at least a point in its past 10 games. The Marlies also have points in 14 of their past 15 games, with a record of 12-1-2 over that span.
Toronto remains atop the Western Conference standings with 45 points.
The Marlies (21-9-3) got off to a quick start, scoring just over three minutes into the game, and took a 2-1 lead into the intermission.
It was chippy opening period, with 30 minutes in penalties. But Eakins wasn't at all deterred that Rockford was trying to get his team ??? now the highest scoring team in the league ??? off its offensive game.
"We can match up against anyone," Eakins said. "If you want to play a skill game, we can do that; if you want to get a little nasty to do that."
Toronto is now 13-0-3 when leading after the first period.
The Marlies had another quick start to a period when they scored just over thee minutes into the second on a highlight-reel goal from Ryan. On the rush, the right-winger deked around two IceHogs before slipping a shot from the slot past Hutton.
Rockford quickly got that goal back when Bollig blasted a slapshot from just inside the Toronto blue-line past an unscreened Scrivens a little more than a minute later.
But Toronto restored its two-goal lead at 13:53 while shorthanded when Hamilton smacked in his 16th goal of the season during a goalmouth scramble.
The Marlies captain is tied for fifth in the AHL in goals.
"He's a horse," Eakins said. "He's strong, he's fit and he's extremely hard to contain, especially down low. He likes setting up in front of the net, likes keeping cycles alive and sacrifices himself blocking shots all the time. 'Hammy' has been rewarded just going to the net like that."
Colborne added an empty-netter at 18:19 of the third period.
With hopes increasing for a deal between the NHL-NHLPA, Fraser is one many players on the Marlies roster making a case for a shot with the Maple Leafs if there is a season.
"I'm actually just grateful that I'm in a position where I can keep playing," Fraser said. "I'm in a position where I've been able to play. I've been getting good minutes. Being able to get used to do what I want to do in the event the season came back and there was a training camp, I'm just fortunate and optimistic about having been on the ice for a few months already."
Notes: Toronto is now 13-2-1 at home. . . Hamilton's shorthanded goal ties the Marlies all-time mark at seven. . . Announced attendance was 8,017.