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Leivo's hat trick lifts Marlies over Comets

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The Canadian Press
1/4/2014 8:56:58 PM
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TORONTO -- Josh Leivo credited his hat trick Saturday to a wake-up call from Marlies coaching staff.

Leivo was also reunited with Greg McKegg, and the combination helped Leivo end a 12-game goalless drought as the Marlies beat the Utica Comets 5-2 to win for the third time in four games.

"I was playing sloppy and the coaches got on me a little bit obviously to motivate me and that's what they did," said Levio. "I'm happy for it and I can't thank them enough for helping me out there."

Utica's loss was its second in as many nights following a 5-2 defeat to Rochester on Friday night.

The Comets (11-18-3) opened the scoring at 1:35 as Alexandre Grenier put home his own rebound for his 10th of the season.

Toronto (19-11-3) tied it 1-1 on a Korbinian Holzer first-period goal. Leivo and Spencer Abbott scored in the second period to take a 3-1 lead into the third.

Leivo added his second of the night early in the third and completed the hat trick into an empty net with 19 seconds remaining in the game.

McKegg, who first played alongside Levio last season, assisted on two of Leivo's goals.

Toronto head coach Steve Spott said a meeting Friday with Maple Leafs VP of Hockey Operations Dave Poulin prompted the change of linemates for Leivo.

"We agreed maybe giving Josh an opportunity to play with Greg McKegg," said Spott. "When he was having success earlier in the year, Josh was playing with Greg McKegg and they had some chemistry."

Kellan Lain pulled the Comets to 4-2 at 12:05 of the third, but that's as close as Utica would get.

Joacim Eriksson, who was making his first start since being re-assigned by the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 2, made 26 saves for his 11th loss of the season.

Garret Sparks made 25 saves to pick up his second win in as many starts.

Wade MacLeod had an excellent chance to tie it 1-1 at 5:00 of the first, on a partial break, but was turned aside by the left pad of Eriksson.

Holzer got the Marlies on the board eight minutes later on a power play, one-timing a Stuart Percy feed past the glove hand of Eriksson for his third of the season.

Leivo gave Toronto a 2-1 lead at 7:42 of the second period, picking up a lose puck in the slot and beating Eriksson.

Abbott made it 3-1 at 12:34 of the second when he fired in a MacLeod rebound, beating Eriksson though his shot rang off the post. With the goal, Abbott tied defenceman T.J. Brennan for the Marlies team-lead in points with 31.

The Marlies made it 4-1 on Leivo's second of the night, and seventh of the season, on a power play at 2:50 of the third.

Toronto finished 2 for 5 on the power play while Utica went scoreless on five chances.

The Marlies head out on the road for their next seven games starting on Jan. 10 with back-to-back contests in St. John's, N.L.

Notes: The Marlies recalled G Christopher Gibson from the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL on Saturday. Marlies G Drew MacIntyre, who made 31 saves in Friday's 6-3 loss against Syracuse, was scratched with a lower-body injury. According to Spott, MacIntyre suffered the injury Dec. 31 in Grand Rapids. ... Toronto F Sam Carrick missed Saturday's game with the flu. ... The Marlies and Comets, who meet four more times this season, face each other next on Feb. 16.

Toronto Marlies (Photo: AHL)

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(Photo: AHL)
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