Kenny Ryan found out he was making his season debut for the Toronto Marlies on Saturday when he was sent the news in a text message the night before.
Ryan scored twice in a 5-0 hammering over the visiting Hamilton Bulldogs, making a strong case to remain in Toronto’s lineup.
“I was waiting for the opportunity and get in the game,” said Ryan. who split time last season with the Marlies and the ECHL’s Reading Royals. He scored once in 16 games last season with the Marlies.
“Make sure it did the most with it and give myself the best opportunity.”
Toronto’s goal in the first minute of the game stood up as the winner as Jussi Rynnas made 31 saves. The Bulldogs had beaten the Marlies 4-1 in Hamilton on Friday.
Greg McKegg, Nicolas Deschamps and Mike Kostka also scored for Toronto (2-2-0) in a game that saw five fights and 90 minutes of penalties.
“We play a team 12 times during a year it’s going to be a lot of tension between the teams so it was good,” said Ryan, who also dropped the gloves in the first period with the Bulldogs’ Blake Geoffrion.
“I think there were four or five fights tonight and everybody answered it and did well.”
Robert Mayer gave up three goals on six shots before he was pulled in Hamilton’s (2-1-0) first loss of the season.
After one of the scrums after the whistle in the second period, Bulldogs’ forward Louis Leblanc was helped off the ice and didn’t return when he fell awkwardly.
“It’s never fun to see a guy get hurt like that,” said Bulldogs’ forward Gabriel Dumont. “His leg twisted pretty weird. It didn’t look good so it’s tough. He’s a good player and a big loss for our team.”
Toronto jumped on the board just 51 seconds in as McKegg received a deflected pass from the behind the net and scored from in close on the left side.
Six minutes later, Ryan benefited from another pass from behind the goal as he took a pass on the left side and dropped to one knee to fire home his first of the season.
“Kenny Ryan has been one of our two or three hardest working guys for basically the last month,” said Toronto coach Dallas Eakins. “He’s been held out of the lineup early because of our depth. He got his opportunity and really shone through.”
Ryan’s second at 10:24 of the first ended Mayer’s night. Keith Aucoin, who assisted on Ryan’s first goal, led a rush up the left side and passed cross-ice to Ryan who tapped it towards the goal and the puck trickled in.
Toronto didn’t let up in the second, adding two more goals in less than two minutes into the period.
Deschamps deflected a Jake Gardiner shot from the point at 4:24 and Kostka got a power-play goal at 6:07 when his shot from the blue-line struck the post before ricocheting in.
The Marlies have one power-play goal in their last 25 chances.
Peter Delmas, who replaced Mayer, finished with 16 saves on 18 shots.
Notes: Announced attendance at Ricoh Coliseum was 7,618. ... The two teams have their third meeting of the season Friday in Hamilton. ... Toronto plays their third game in as many days Sunday afternoon when they host the Grand Rapids Griffins.