Toronto Marlies down Barons to advance to AHL final
Simon Gysbers scored the game-winning goal to propel the Toronto Marlies into the American Hockey League's Calder Cup final after defeating the Oklahoma City Barons 3-1 on Friday.
Gysbers scored 8:38 into the third period when he skated into a shot from the blue-line and blew it past Barons goaltender Yann Danis for his first of the playoffs.
"It's the biggest goal I've scored, for sure," Gysbers said. "I could take you through it for years to come.
"[Nicolas Deschamps] made a great play. He made a nice move tocut back, I moved in, he put it on a tee for me and I just hit it."
Matt Frattin had the other goals for Toronto and Ben Scrivens stopped 26 shots in goal for his 11th win of the post-season.
Frattin now has 10 goals in the playoffs to lead all AHL scorers.
Chris VandeVelde had the lone goal for Oklahoma City, affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers, while Danis made 22 saves in defeat.
The Marlies dispatched the Western Conference's No. 1 seed in five games, taking all three games at Ricoh Coliseum after splitting the first two games in Oklahoma City.
Toronto now moves on to face the Norfolk Admirals, who swept theSt. John's IceCaps to win the Eastern Conference.
"This is just such a great, great experience for these guys,"said Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins. "It's so good for their development to go through rounds, be put into situations like theyare, get into a full building, have all of [the media] here to talk to them — it's good all the way around for these young men and their futures.
"Playoffs are always a marathon. It's amazing what you have to go through. But that's what the playoffs are about when the unsung guys step up and give you big games."
Game 1 of the final will take place in Norfolk on June 1. The final follows a 2-3-2 format, with the first of three straight games in Toronto taking place on June 7.
This season, the Admirals had the league's best record in the regular season and set the mark for the longest winning streak at 28 games.
"We won three and it's no different than trying to close out a series," Scrivens said. "The last one is going to be the toughest one. Norfolk is obviously a great team and set a ton of records with that win streak."
It will be the first trip to the Calder Cup final for the Marlies, who moved to Toronto at the start of the 2005-06 season. In fact, the franchise, which started in St. Catharines, Ont., in 1982, has only reached the final once. The St. John's Maple Leafs lost the 1992 final in seven games to the Adirondack Red Wings.
Toronto got on the board early thanks to a surprising move by Dallas Eakins. The Marlies' head coach opted to start the game with his fourth line — Jay Rosehill, Josh Engel and Colton Orr — and the move worked as the line helped draw a penalty on defenceman Dan Ringwald just 26 seconds into the game.
Less than a minute later, Toronto worked the puck around the perimeter in the offensive zone until Philippe Dupuis passed from behind the net to a charging Frattin, who one-timed it past Danis.
The Marlies are now 8-0 when scoring first, 7-0 when leading after the first period and 4-0 in one-goal games.
The second period was quiet until VandeVelde scored on a goal-mouth scramble during 4-on-4 play with 15 seconds left.
It was the first goal Scrivens allowed since the third period of Game 3, spanning 107:49 after he shutout the Barons in Game 4.
After Gysbers gave Toronto the lead, Frattin scored an empty netter with 42 seconds left to play to punch the Marlies' ticket to the Calder Cup.
Both Nazem Kadri and Mike Zigomanis of the Marlies sat out their second straight game due to injury.
"We have a couple guys in there who are being held together with duct tape right now," Eakins said. "I don't even know how they're playing. But these kids are tough as nails, they're resilient and they expect to win."