TORONTO - The Toronto Marlies and Grand Rapids Griffins woke up on the wrong side of the bed Wednesday morning.
The two teams were pretty grumpy for the 11 a.m. start, engaging in a slugfest on kids' day at a packed Ricoh Coliseum. In total, there were 204 minutes in penalties, including 18 fighting majors and six game misconducts that all came in the third period, in a game the Marlies ended up winning 3-1.
"You never can prepare for anything like that," said Marlies captain Alex Foster. "We were caught off guard enough that it was an 11 a.m. start. But sometimes that happens and you got to be ready for it ... Bodies were flying.
"It was entertaining, that's for sure."
Christian Hanson, Marcel Mueller and Joey Crabb scored for the Marlies (10-8-3).
Jan Mursak had the lone goal in reply for the Griffins (8-8-3).
Jussi Rynnas continued his hot goaltending, stopping 26 shots for Toronto. Thomas McCollum made 20 saves in goal for Grand Rapids.
It was a rare weekday morning start for the Marlies, who played before an announced crowd of 7,124—the majority of them local schoolchildren.
Some of the charitable work done by the Toronto players involves going into schools to discourage fighting.
"We do school assemblies on bullying," said Foster. "I guess now they have something to compare it to. It's a hockey game, so it's a little different. We didn't plan on it happening.
"They had fun. They were screaming."
The game turned ugly with the Marlies ahead 3-0. The fight-filled third period included a full line brawl at one point.
"All the fireworks started when they called their timeout and sent out guys looking (to fight)," said Marlies coach Dallas Eakins. "That's fine—we can play any kind of game. We're built very well that if another team decides they're not having a very good night and their coach wants to light a fire under their butts and go out and look for something like that, we're more than glad to oblige."
After the Griffins scored to make it 3-1, Eakins called a timeout to settle his players down and focus on getting the win. He was happy his team won the game, though he wished the fight-filled affair didn't happen in front of an arena full of kids.
"That's probably not the greatest thing," said Eakins. "But it's part of hockey, it always has been and it's not going away any time soon."
Marlies enforcer Jay Rosehill got the fisticuffs going with Greg Amadio of the Griffins in the first fight of the game and added another later in the third period.
"We got up 3-0, kept hitting, kept forechecking and didn't lay off," Rosehill said. "When you're a team down 3-0 and the other team keeps the pressure on, you get frustrated. One thing led to another and sometime that happens."
The first period started chippy with 20 minutes in minor penalties, but no fights. Toronto scored the only goal when Hanson completed a nice two-on-one break, taking a pass from Luca Caputi and deking McCollum to his glove side.
Mueller made it 2-0 with his first goal of the season. Brayden Irwin made a cross-ice pass at centre ice to a streaking Mueller, who beat McCollum high on his blocker side with a quick wrist shot.
He was thrilled to end the long goal drought.
"You start thinking about it at 18 games," Mueller said. "But finally I got it and maybe I'm going to start a streak now."
Crabb gave the Marlies a 3-0 lead with a power play goal late in the period. Matt Lashoff dished off to Mike Zigomanis, who rifled a slapshot that Crabb deflected over the shoulder of McCollum.
The Marlies' next game is Friday in Rochester, where they will take on the Americans.
Notes: The Marlies are 9-2-2 in games they've been outshot ... Heading into the game, Toronto ranked 27th in the league in shots allowed per game (33.3) ... Zigomanis has 12 points in 13 games since being reassigned to the Marlies ... Toronto is now 10-1-1 when they score three or more goals in a game.