TORONTO — Kenny Agostino scored 4:35 into overtime, and the Toronto Marlies beat the Laval Rocket 2-1 on Wednesday in their first game without head coach Sheldon Keefe.
Keefe was promoted to head coach of the Maple Leafs earlier in the day after the NHL team fired Mike Babcock. Keefe will make his NHL coaching debut Thursday when the Leafs take on the Coyotes in Arizona.
Assistant coaches Rob Davison and A.J. MacLean shared coaching duties in Keefe's absence.
"He genuinely cares about every player that’s come through here," MacLean said of Keefe. "He puts a lot of time and effort in to make sure that each and every player has an opportunity to reach their maximum potential, and that's our day-in and day-out process, is to try and get the players to their potential."
Scott Pooley scored for the Marlies (11-2-3) to tie the game 3:03 into the second period.
Matthew Peca had the lone goal for the Rocket (10-6-3).
Toronto goaltender Michael Hutchinson made 32 saves. Laval's Charlie Lindgren stopped 19 shots.
Keefe finished his Marlies coaching career with a 199-89-31 record and was 15 games into his fifth season. He led Toronto to its first Calder Cup championship in 2018 and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals twice.
He also won the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy twice as the regular season champions.
"I was very fortunate to play under Sheldon for parts of three years now," said Marlies centre Adam Brooks. "When I came into the league it was a huge adjustment for me, probably a little harder than I thought it was going to be and he was there the whole way.
"He's a great coach, he always tells you exactly what he wants from you and when he sees that your game's not going the way he wants it to be, he straightens it out and shows you the things that you’re doing wrong."
MacLean said he talked to Keefe briefly through a group text chat following the announcement of his promotion.
"We wished him all the best and told him how proud we are of him," he said. "We're looking forward to watching him go."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2019.
The Canadian Press