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SCORELESS IN TORONTO



TORONTO – A sluggish start by the Grand Rapids Griffins soon turned into an insurmountable deficit, as Tyler Beechey factored in each of the Toronto Marlies’ first three goals en route to a 5-0 Griffins loss Wednesday night at Ricoh Coliseum.

The Marlies struck quickly for a 1-0 lead at 1:42 of the first period. Beechey slung a cross-ice pass through traffic, deflecting slightly off the stick of Tomas Kopecky before Martin Sagat tapped a shot past Joey MacDonald glove-side.

Sagat capitalized again shortly after Toronto’s first power play expired. Just as Donald MacLean returned to the ice, Beechey took a pass off the end-boards and shoveled the puck directly in front, where Sagat crisply cashed in to push the Marlies’ lead to 2-0 at 7:55.

Beechey scored a goal of his own at 15:07, taking a smooth backhand pass from Bates Battaglia on the right side while cutting through the slot and lifting a knuckler over the blocker shoulder of MacDonald for a 3-0 Toronto edge at the break.

A Grand Rapids turnover at the left point on the power play paid immediate dividends for Toronto’s Kris Newbury late in the second period. The left wing carried the puck across the neutral zone, rifling a slapshot from 45 feet that found the back of the net for a short-handed marker and a 4-0 Marlies advantage at 14:01. The Griffins were out-shot 11-4 in the frame.

Toronto added a late power play tally to seal the Griffins’ fate, as Brendan Bell faked a shot from the right point before angling a pass to Jeremy Williams on the front porch from the left side. The center’s eighth goal of the season made it a 5-0 game at 14:24.

MacDonald stopped 36 of 41 shots, suffering his third loss in four decisions for an overall record of 4-3-1. Toronto netminder Jean-Sebastien Aubin denied all 20 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season.

It was the Griffins’ first shutout loss of the 2005-06 campaign, and first blank slate since a 2-0 home loss to Edmonton last season (3/18/05).

Grand Rapids looks to break their first three-game losing streak of the year at Rochester in a 7:35 p.m. encounter with the Americans Friday night. The Griffins stand at 18-8-0-2, trailing first-place Manitoba by three points in the North Division with four games in hand.

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