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Rookies Back In Action Tonight

Sunday, 11.09.2011 / 1:05 PM / News
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Rookies Back In Action Tonight
   
 
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By Clayton Hansler
--Oshawa, ON

Pittsburgh Penguins (0-1-0) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (1-0-0)

In their second game in as many days, the Maple Leafs' rookies look for victory at GM Centre against a more veteran Pittsburgh team. A day after their come-from-behind victory to open the tournament, the Leafs hope they can find similar offence despite changes to the lineup.
Tonight's starting goalie Garret Sparks

Forwards Tyler Brenner and Kyle Neuber, along with rearguards Dave Cowan and Denny Urban, sat out the first contest of the three game round robin and are excited for their opportunity tonight.

"I think maybe they just wanted to see some of the younger guys or guys they haven't seen as much," said Brenner who admitted it was tough being out of the lineup for game one. "[I'm] looking forward to being in the lineup tonight and getting things going."

Removed from the playing roster will be Matt Frattin and Jesse Blacker, as well as Kenny Ryan and Jake Gardiner who combined for three goals against Chicago on Saturday.

With little practice time and only four days to complete the three game tournament, Dallas Eakins, Leafs coach for the duration of the rookie games, says he is looking for the participants to prove their ability to first compete, and secondly support.

"If they support each other and help each other then the whole group will find success," said Eakins. "I thought they did a good job of it last night."

The latter quality, that of support, will be one that will play a heavy hand in deciding the outcome against the Penguins. Pittsburgh's rookie roster boasts of both depth and experience, with 12 players having birth dates prior to 1990. In comparison, the Leafs have only six. The physical maturity of the Penguins will be a test to the Leafs ability to play together as a full five-man team while on the ice.

Coming off a 4-0 loss to Ottawa, Pittsburgh's rookie Penguins will be hungry for opportunity around the net. None more than Eric Tangradi, the former Belleville Bulls forward who has spent the past two seasons playing at the professional level including 16 games in the NHL. Tangradi's ability to make a home for himself in front of the net, leaving very little room for the opposing goaltender, is reason for many of his 35 AHL goals last season.

Garret Sparks is scheduled to play the full 60 minutes against Pittsburgh after he split duties with Mark Owuya Saturday night. Sparks allowed both goals against Chicago, one coming only minutes after being summoned to the crease without a warmup at the game's midway point and the second being the unfortunate result of an odd-man rush.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at GM Centre, and will be televised on Rogers TV, as well as online at mapleleafs.com on a 30 minute delay at 7:30 p.m.. Follow the Maple Leafs and Chansler on twitter for updates on all the action, and join the game long conversation on the Maple Leafs Facebook page.

Notes: Jim Hughes is expected to lead the Leafs as coach on the bench against Pittsburgh … Of those dressed tonight on either team, Jamie Devane is the lone goal scorer in the rookie tournament … Player to Watch: Greg McKegg. With line chemistry made apparent on Saturday apparent by the scoring chances created, look for McKegg to ink himself on the scoresheet against Pittsburgh.

Having a problem putting a name to a number? Check out the full roster here.


EXPECTED LEAFS LINEUP

STARTING IN GOAL: Garret Sparks

FORWARD LINES

McKegg - Crescenzi - Nicholls
Broll - Heard - Devane
Ross - Neuber - Brenner
Olden - Carrick - Leivo

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Schmidt - Percy
Stanisz - Cowan
Clarke - Urban
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