Baby Leafs back in the hunt for a play-off berth

By Doug Evinou

Leeb and Gavey have Baby Leafs playing their best hockey of the season

Don’t look now, but the Baby Leafs have climbed back into the thick of things in the AHL’s Eastern Conference play-off fray. Solid play on their current 10 game homestand, highlighted by last nights 5-3 victory against the Binghamton Senators, giving them 5 straight wins, has seen them climb up the standings to within 2 points of the Albany RiverRats. After the trade of leading scorer Brad Boyes in the Owen Nolan deal, many pundits had given up on the squad, but strong play, led by veterans Brad Leeb and Aaron Gavey, has turned the season around for the Baby Leafs.

Last night’s game, played in front of 5,732 at Mile One Stadium, was redemption for the Baby Leafs, who were trounced 8-0 in their last match against the Senators at Ottawa’s Corel Centre. Gavey got the Leafs off to a good start in the first period with a goal from Christian Chartier. Solid play from goaltender Jamie Hodson, playing in relief of Mikael Tellqvist, who is suffering from a bruised collarbone, kept the Senators at bay. Radim Bicanek scored an early power play goal for the Senators in the second period, but Marc Moro, one of the better Leafs defenders as of late, responded with his third goal of the season from Josh Holden and recently returned Alexei Ponikarovsky. The Baby Leafs sealed the victory with three straight goals in the third, off of the sticks of Nathan Barrett, Brad Leeb and Craig Mills, after Ray Giroux had tied the game early in the stanza. Jamie Hodson stopped 30 shots for his 7th win of the season.

News & Notes

The St. John’s Maple Leafs announced today that goaltender Sebastien Centomo has been recalled from the Greensboro Generals of the ECHL. In eight games with the Generals Centomo has a 1-3-3 record a 2.92 AVG. and a .915 save percentage. Sebastien Centomo started the 2002-03 season with the St. John’s Maple Leafs and posted a 7-10-1 record, a 3.90 AVG. and a .878 save percentage in 19 appearances. Centomo has been recalled to replace Mikael Tellqvist, who has missed the last three games after taking a shot off of the collarbone in warm-up in Friday’s game.

Carlo Colaiacovo’s OHL career ended on Sunday night, but the Maple Leafs organization has yet to decide whether or not he will suit up for the Baby Leafs this season. Colaiacovo is suffering from hamstring problems, as well as lingering pain from an earlier shoulder injury. The injuries forced Colaiacovo to miss the last 5 games of the season for the Otters. Colaiacovo finished the season with 14 goals and 21 assists in 35 games. He is currently in Toronto being examined by team doctors.

Toronto area fans will be hoping Colaiacovo can make his debut with the team this weekend when the Baby Leafs make their final trip to Hamilton to face the Bulldogs, on Friday (7:30pm) and Sunday (2pm). The Baby Leafs always attract a large crowd in Hamilton, and the Bulldogs expect this weekend to be no different, as they have announced that they will be opening the upper bowl of Copps Coliseum for the first time this season.

The Maple Leafs conclude their 10-game homestand tonight when they take on the Binghamton Senators at 7:30pm (ATL).