Alex Steeves is only two games inside his professional career, but he is already turning his head.
After an impressive debut, scoring his first professional point (one assist) and five shots on goal on Friday night, the rookie scored his first two AHL goals – both impressively – in a 5-2 victory for Marlies in Belleville on Saturday.
Toronto dominated the opening frame, creating almost as many dangerous scoring opportunities (five) as Belleville recorded shots (six).
The only frustration point for the Marlies was that they only had one goal to show for their effort through 20 minutes.
Marlies easily moved the puck from low to high and Kristians Rubins was ready to sweep on a rebound from an initial shot from Mac Hollowell.
Unable to take advantage of two power-play opportunities, Belleville found themselves trailing 1-0 in the first break.
Unlike the opening frame, the Senators created the best scoring chances, but a few goals in the middle frame – both on a single Belleville powerplay – meant the margin remained one for the Marlies after the middle 20.
Alex Steeves, who had already been charged with manslaughter, made a solid defensive play on the wall to deny Belleville possession in the Marlies’ zone. The puck broke free for Marc Michaelis, who found Steeves breaking on the left wing with room to roam.
After a fine move down the middle Stevens nearly gave the home side a goal after 27 minutes. The finishing shot went just wide, though.
The Senators responded 40 seconds later when Joseph Woll was unable to hold on to a shot and Mark Kastelic made his first of the season in the ensuing match.
The result was stuck in the balance until the final four minutes of the match, when Toronto finally put the competition out of reach.
One was not enough for Steeves, who doubled his goal within five minutes. Joseph Duszak and Semyon Der-Arguchintsev combined to feed the rookie forward in the middle of the ice, where Steeves let fly with a ball of a shot that hit the Mandolese top shelf just above the hash marks. It’s worth an extra look:
– Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) October 30, 2021
Mikhail Abramov and Brennan Menell were both close to adding an insurance marker on individual bets. At the other end of the ice, Egor Solokov was out of his mind after missing the goal from the gap with six minutes left on the clock.
60 seconds later, a brainwashing from Woll almost presented the Senators with a crucial goal. The goalkeeper found himself trapped behind his net after playing incorrectly on the puck, but Woll somehow came back between the pipes to make a desperation save despite some interference from Solokov as he climbed back to his fold.
It turned out to be the Senators’ last real opportunity to take anything from the game. Three more goals were counted within 48 seconds, with Marlies scoring two of them.
A heads-up play from Menell set up Toronto’s fourth goal – the defender with the right shot fired a shot from the senators before sending a pass from the right boards, which was sent by two defenders and sent Josh Ho-Sang away on a outbreak . There was never any doubt as the winger went forehand to backhand to finish with aplomb.
The fifth goal for the Marlies came from a hard effort from the fourth line. Rich Clune and Curtis Douglas both won battles to retain possession before the latter found Bobby McMann sneaking down the middle of the ice, with McMann following Steeves’ lead with a roof job past Mandolese.
Jake Lucchini’s redirection statement on a shot from Erik Brannstrom was nothing but a consolation statement for the senators, who were clearly second best in this weekend series.
A 5-2 win for the Marlies moves them up to a 4-3-0 record and makes them feel more comfortable after some heavy defeats to start the season.
Post game notes
– Two things stood out for me in this victory:
- Marlies did a far better job of driving inside the interior of the offseason zone to create dangerous scoring opportunities than in any performance to date this season.
- The zone exits and entrances were also tidy and a key component of the team’s dominance in the first period.
– Is there any point in me trying to calm down Alex Steeves hype? His shooting ability is far better than I had imagined by seeing his previous highlight packs. It is impressive to beat professional goalkeepers two matches inside his professional career.
“He’s brought a lot to our team in the last two games,” Greg Moore said. “Not just the goal scoring, but all the little things that help win hockey matches – his work ethic, competitiveness, his ability to play with the puck, game control objects. He has come in and set a good example.”
– Semyon Der-Arguchintsev recorded his fourth assist in seven games. A worrying trend has been his reluctance to shoot from promising scoring positions, which would ultimately make him more of a threat on the way forward. After recording 11 shots through the first four games, SDA has only recorded one shot online in its last three appearances.
– Kristians Rubins and the recently recalled Bobby McMann both scored their first goals of the AHL season.
“[Kristians Rubins] has learned a lot about where he places himself on the field offensively and defensively, ”said Moore. “He’s just a smarter hockey player. He has to do less because of how he positions himself … You can see his maturity with that.”
– Josh Ho-Sang scored his fifth of the season and now leads the Marlies in goal scoring.
– Saturday’s lines:
Seney – SDA – Anderson
Steeves – Semyonov – Ho-Sang
Gogolev – Abramov – Michaelis
McMann – Douglas – Clune
Rubins – Menell
Dahlström – Hollowell
Konge – Duszak