The Lake Erie Monsters hosted Grand Rapids last Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena and lost 6-4 to the Griffins.
Grand Rapids kicked off the scoring with a backhand shot through Monsters goalie Calvin Pickard at 1:14, holding off Lake Erie until near the 18-minute mark of the first period.
After a slow progression through much of the opening frame, it was an exciting final few minutes with two goals scored in 22 seconds; one at 18:15 for the Griffins and another at 18:37 from Monsters center Freddie Hamilton. The goal was Hamilton’s first in a Lake Erie sweater, and his 10th overall in the AHL this season. Chris Bigras, who signed an amateur-tryout contract with the Monsters on April 6, assisted on Lake Erie’s first tally of the game.
Going into the middle stanza, the Monsters trailed 2-1, but they didn't fall short for long. At 12:58, Joey Hishon flew down the ice on a breakaway after receiving a pass from Bigras and darted the puck past the Griffins goalie, Tom McCollum. Bigras notched his second assist of the game on Hishon’s goal.
The final minutes of the second period were also a nail-biting spectacle such as in the first frame, but this time it wasn't the Monsters that buried the puck. Grand Rapids scored two goals in less than 90 seconds, ending the middle stanza with a 4-2 deficit for Lake Erie.
The Monsters faced their two-goal shortage with confidence and began the third period flying on the ice and scored just 28 seconds into the frame to close the gap to 4-3. The goal was Tomas Vincour’s ninth of the 2014-15 season, and was the fourth time in four consecutive games where he lit the lamp.
The two teams went back and forth until 10:52 when Andrew Agozzino scored his team-leading 29th tally of the year, but it would be the last time the score would be tied.
Grand Rapids retaliated shortly after at 13:58, and again into an empty net with 35 seconds remaining. Pickard stopped 24 shots in the loss.
The next night, the Monsters hosted the Hamilton Bulldogs in their last home game of the year and secured a 6-3 win in front of a season-high crowd of 15,288.
Hamilton recorded the first two goals of the game, but the Bulldogs’ lead was short-lived as Lake Erie answered with six tallies of its own.
Starting off the comeback was Hishon, notching his 16th of the 2014-15 campaign at 8:42 of the first period. Hishon’s goal was followed 20 seconds later by one from Agozzino, who fired a snapper past the Bulldogs goalie that landed top shelf. Agozzino’s 30th goal of the season tied the game 2-2.
Michael Schumacher added another tally to the Monsters' increasing score, capping the second period with a 3-2 lead for Lake Erie.
The scoreboard in the final frame remained dormant until the Monsters’ power play at 12:31 when Vincour registered his 10th goal of the season. The tally extended his goal streak to five games.
Ben Street added two short-handed, empty-net notches for Lake Erie, and Hamilton closed out the scoring with a goal of its own before the final buzzer.
Monsters goalie Sami Aittokallio (8-5-1) stopped 19 shots before Pickard relieved him at 8:17 in the third due to cramping. Pickard saved nine shots while in net.
Lake Erie traveled to Hamilton, Ontario to take on the Bulldogs again on Sunday and beat them 4-3 in a shootout to end its season on a positive note.
Cody Corbett scored at 14:30 of the opening frame for the Monsters, recording his third goal of the year, but Hamilton soon followed with a tally of its own at 16:10.
The Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead with 12:52 left in the second period, but Lake Erie caught up to speed later in the frame. Stefan Elliott notched his 19th goal of the season on a power play at 14:56, and then the Monsters’ Hamilton gave the visitors' a 3-2 advantage after scoring his 11th at 15:41.
The Bulldogs scored their last goal of the game with 16:13 left in the third, pushing the two teams into overtime and an eventual shootout.
Hishon scored the only shootout goal in the tiebreaker, giving the Monsters the 4-3 win. Pickard (23-17-9) stopped all three of Hamilton’s shootout attempts and saved 40 shots through OT for Lake Erie.
On Friday, the Avalanche announced a new five-year AHL affiliation with the San Antonio Rampage, ending an eight-year relationship with Lake Erie.
“We are pleased to announce this new affiliation with San Antonio,” said Avalanche executive vice president/general manager Joe Sakic. “The Rampage organization has a great reputation and we look forward to our prospects developing in such an environment.”
The Avs will begin their relationship with their new association starting in the 2015-16 season. All Lake Erie players who are under contract with Colorado for next season will transfer to San Antonio to play for the Rampage in 2015-16.
Fort Wayne Komets
Goaltender Roman Will was named the CCM ECHL Rookie of the Month for April after posting a 4-1-0 record, a 1.75 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage in five games. In addition, he was named to the 2014-15 ECHL All-Rookie Team earlier this season on April 8.
The Fort Wayne Komets hosted the Kalamazoo Wings on Friday in Game 1 of the North Division Semifinals, defeating them 4-2. Will made 28 saves in the victory.
In Game 2 on Saturday, the Komets beat Wings again at home, but this time by a 3-0 score. Will stood on his head, stopping all 35 shots in the shutout victory.
Chris Bigras (Owen Sound Attack): Bigras finished the regular season ranked second in scoring among OHL defensemen with 71 points (20 goals, 51 assists) in 62 games. He also recorded one goal and two assists in five postseason contests. Bigras finished the year with Lake Erie after signing an amateur-tryout contract with the team. He recorded four assists in seven games with the Monsters.
Nick Magyar (Kitchener Rangers): Magyar finished the regular season with 32 points (16 goals, 16 assists) in 65 contests for Kitchener. He registered a goal and two assists in six postseason games.
Spencer Martin (Mississauga Steelheads): Martin, Colorado’s third-round pick (63rd overall) in the 2013 NHL draft, suffered a knee injury on Dec. 21 and missed the second half of the season for the Steelheads. He appeared in 31 games for Mississauga, finishing with a 15-13-1 record, a 2.98 goals-against average and .921 save percentage.
Kyle Wood (North Bay Battalion): Wood and the North Bay Battalion spent the end of the week pushing the Barrie Colts out of playoffs and moving itself into the next round. The Battalion beat the Colts 4-2 on Tuesday in Game 3 before winning 4-3 in double overtime on Thursday. Wood recorded three total assists in the two games. North Bay then traveled to Barrie on Saturday in Game 5 and ended the series with a 7-5 victory. The Battalion will face the Oshawa Generals in the OHL East Final, which starts on Friday. Wood ended the regular season with 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) in 67 games. He has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in nine playoff contests.
Julien Nantel (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies): Colorado’s seventh-round pick (204th overall) in the 2014 draft, Nantel finished the regular season with 61 points (26 goals, 35 assists) in 64 games. He recorded three goals and an assist in six playoff contests.
Alexis Pepin (Val-d’Or Foreurs): Val-d’Or dropped Game 3 against Baie-Comeau 6-3, falling 3-0 in the series, but has since rebounded and is on the verge on an incredible comeback. The Foreurs went on to win the next three games and can take the series tonight in Game 7. Pepin had a goal on Wednesday in a 4-3 win in Game 4 and in a 5-2 victory in Game 5 on Friday. He recorded an assist in Game 6, a 4-2 win for the Foreurs over the Drakkar. In 12 playoff contests, Pepin has registered three goals and four assists. He ended the regular season with 27 points (18 goals, nine assists) in 47 games split between Gatineau and Val-d’Or.
Conner Bleackley (Red Deer Rebels): Bleackley had 49 points (27 goals, 22 assists) in 51 games during the regular season. The Avs' 2014 first-round selection recorded a goal in Game 4 and an assist in Game 5 of Red Deer's WHL opening-round series against Medicine Hat.
Mason Geertsen (Vancouver Giants): Geertsen was named the Giants' MVP after finishing the season with 38 points (13 goals, 25 assists) and a plus-3 overall rating in 69 games. On March 24, the Avalanche signed Geertsen to a three-year, entry-level contract that begins in 2015-16. He finished the year by playing nine games with the Lake Erie Monsters on an amateur-tryout deal.
Will Butcher (University of Denver): Butcher finished the regular season with the Pioneers by registering 18 points (four goals, 14 assists) and a plus-6 rating in 38 games.
Ben Storm (St. Cloud State University): Storm finished the 2014-15 campaign with five points (two goals, three assists) in 33 games for the Huskies.
Maximilian Pajpach (Tappara U20, Ligga Jr. A): Pajpach did not appear in a game for Tappara this season after suffering an offseason injury.
Anton Lindholm (Skelleftea AIK, SHL): Skelleftea's SHL Final series with Vaxjo is tied 2-2. Game 5 is today. Lindholm’s team fell 4-2 to the Lakers on Thursday in Game 3, but Skelleftea came back later in the week to beat Vaxjo 2-1 in Game 4 on Sunday. Colorado’s fifth-round pick (144th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft, Lindholm has a goal and four assists in 13 playoff games. He had seven assists and a plus-12 rating in 35 contests during the regular season.
Wilhelm Westlund (Vita Hasten, Allsvenskan): Westlund tallied one goal in nine playoff contests for Vita Hasten before it was knocked out of the postseason. He finished the regular season with 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in 40 games. He also played in four contests and recorded two goals and two assists with Djurgardens' junior team in the SuperElit playoffs.
Luke Walker (Graz 99ers, Eishockey Liga): Walker finished his 2014-15 season ranked second on the team in scoring with 31 points (19 goals, 12 assists) in 51 games played. He tallied five power-play goals and two game-winning goals.
Jonas Holos (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl): Holos ended the regular season with 19 points (10 goals, nine assists) in 60 games played, which ranked second among defensemen on the team. He recorded one assist in six playoff contests.
Denis Parshin (Avangard Omsk): Parshin had one assist in three playoff contests before suffering an injury in the first round of the KHL postseason. He led his team in scoring during the regular season with 56 points (25 goals, 31 assists) in 60 games, and finished with an impressive plus-18 rating.