Lake Erie traveled to eastern Texas last Tuesday, challenging the Stars in a seesaw type of game that eventually resulted in a 3-2 shootout loss for the Monsters.
Texas scored the first goal less then seven minutes into the opening frame, taking a 1-0 lead over Lake Erie. The battle cry was answered when the Monsters’ Samuel Henley rebounded a ricocheted puck into the net, tying the score 1-1 at 11:20. Henley’s bullseye was his sixth tally of the 2014-15 season.
Texas goalie Jussi Rynnas left in the first period with an injury at the two-minute mark, and Jack Campbell stepped into the net for the Stars for the rest of the night.
The next goal of the game was scored by former Monster Cameron Gaunce on a power play at 7:03 of the second period and gave Texas another one-goal advantage in the contest.
With nearly a minute left in the middle frame, Stefan Elliott took a right-circle shot at the Stars’ netminder, Campbell, and lit the lamp with a top-shelf tally, his 14th of the season in a Lake Erie sweater.
After a scoreless third period, the back-and-forth shuffle was pushed into overtime where both Monsters goalie Calvin Pickard and Campbell saved six shots each in the seven minutes of extra time.
The shootout continued in the game's teeter-totter fashion, forcing the teams into four rounds of one-on-one duels.
Ending the nail-biting effort was Texas’ Travis Morin, last season's American Hockey League Most Valuable Player, who scored on Pickard after Campbell stopped Mitchell Heard's shot.
Pickard denied 26 shots, while the Stars’ Rynnas made 12 saves before Campbell took over and denied 35 pucks.
Although the Monsters lost the game, they impressively tied a franchise record with 49 shots on goal. The last time Lake Erie accomplished the feat was four years ago on Jan. 29, 2010 against Toronto.
Ironically, the Monsters played the Toronto Marlies on Friday at the Ricoh Coliseum in their final match of the five-game road trip. But instead of a different result, they walked away with another gained point in a 2-1 overtime loss.
The Marlies took a head start in the contest by opening scoring in the first period at 9:08.
Lake Erie put itself on the board for the first and only time in the outing when left wing Andrew Agozzino notched the tying goal on a 2-on-1 rush with the help from teammates Ben Youds and Mat Clark with 11:56 left in the middle frame. Agozzino continues to lead the Monsters in goals with 19 on the season.
The game remained tied 1-1 for the remainder of regulation and led to the Monsters’ second overtime game of the week.
After scoreless 4-on-4 play for four minutes during the sudden death overtime, Toronto was able to slide the puck past Pickard with 1:10 left and while 3-on-3, delivering Lake Erie a 2-1 losing effort.
Pickard stopped 33 shots for the Lake Erie.
The following night, the Monsters made it safely back to Quicken Loans Arena and snatched a 4-3 victory over the Western Conference-leading Grand Rapids Griffins.
Not wasting any time, Lake Erie took advantage of a power play at 1:58 into the first period as Elliott scored with a wrist shot from the right circle. Agozzino’s assist on the goal was his 11th point in his last eight games.
The next 10 minutes were grim for the Monsters as the Griffins knocked in two straight goals, with one at 4:08 and another at 10:31 to give them a 2-1 leg up over Lake Erie.
Just as the period was about to close, Grand Rapids mistakenly gave the puck to the Monsters’ Tomas Vincour, who raced to the Griffins net, only to hand them a top-shelf laser into the back of the net with less than a second left to tie the game 2-2.
Lake Erie’s goal was answered with Grand Rapid’s tally a minute and a half into the middle frame, pushing the Griffins back in front with a 3-2 advantage, but the Monsters continued the comeback momentum by celebrating Troy Bourke’s eighth goal of the season just two minutes later at 3:26.
Tied 3-3, Vincour scored his second goal of the contest—and ultimately the game-winner—off Trevor Cheeks’ deflected shot at 8:31.
The Monsters kept their 4-3 lead all the way until the final buzzer, securing the victory in their final game of the week.
Sami Aittokallio (13-7-1) was in net for Lake Erie and stopped 37 shots in front of a welcome-home crowd of 12,532 fans.
Mar. 25 at Rockford
Mar. 27 at Charlotte
Mar. 29 at Charlotte
Fort Wayne Komets
In the first of their four games last week, the Fort Wayne Komets traveled to Indianapolis on Wednesday and beat the Fuel 4-1. Goalie Roman Will made 26 saves in the victory. The Komets then traveled to Kalamazoo on Friday but fell by a close 4-3 score to the Wings. Will stopped 24 shots in the losing effort. In the first of a two-game weekend series at home against Missouri, Fort Wayne beat the Mavericks 6-4 on Saturday. They again came out victorious the following night by winning 4-1.
Chris Bigras (Owen Sound Attack): The Owen Sound Attack hosted Plymouth on Wednesday, beating the Whalers 7-3. The Attack then traveled to Guelph on Friday and defeated the Storm 4-3, before ending its weekend games the following night with a 4-3 victory over the Sarnia Sting at home. Bigras did not play in any of Owen Sound’s three games last week due to a minor injury suffered the previous week. Bigras currently ranks second in scoring among OHL defensemen with 71 points (20 goals, 51 assists) in 62 games this season.
Nick Magyar (Kitchener Rangers): The Kitchener Rangers fell 3-2 on the road to Guelph last Tuesday, but they were able to bounce back several days later. The Rangers hosted Plymouth on Friday and came out on top with a 4-3 win over the Whalers. Magyar recorded two assists in the triumph. On Saturday, the Rangers traveled to Saginaw to take on the Spirit but lost in a 3-1 battle. Kitchener’s final contest of the weekend resulted in a 3-0 loss to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Sunday. Magyar has 32 points (16 goals, 16 assists) in 65 games with the Rangers this season.
Spencer Martin (Mississauga Steelheads): Martin will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury, suffered Dec. 21 against the Sudbury Wolves. Martin, Colorado’s third-round pick (63rd overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft, appeared in 31 games for the Steelheads this season. He finished the year with a 15-13-1 record, a 2.98 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage.
Kyle Wood (North Bay Battalion): The North Bay Battalion hosted Ottawa on Thursday and defeated the 67’s by a 5-2 score. The following night, the Battalion traveled to Mississauga and ended up taking home a 6-3 victory over the Steelheads. Wood registered two helpers in the win. Keeping up with the successful week, North Bay pulled out an impressive 6-0 dominating victory over the Kingston Frontenacs at home on Sunday. Wood, Colorado’s third-round pick (84th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft, has 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) in 67 games this season.
Julien Nantel (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies): Despite Nantel scoring a goal, Rouyn-Noranda fell to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 3-2 in overtime on Friday. The Huskies did come back the next night and secured a 7-3 victory over the Sherbrooke Pheonix in the season finale. Colorado’s seventh-round pick (204th overall) in the 2014 draft, Nantel finishes the regular season fourth on the team in scoring with 60 points (26 goals, 35 assists) in 64 games. Rouyn-Noranda ended up fourth in the West Division and will play Val-d'Or in the first round of the QMJHL Playoffs. The seven-game series begins Friday.
Alexis Pepin (Val-d’Or Foreurs): Pepin and his team were defeated 6-2 by Sherbrooke on Friday, but their weekend ended on a positive note with a 4-2 win over the Blainville-Boisbriand on Saturday in the regular-season finale. Pepin ends the year with 27 points (18 goals, nine assists) in 47 games, split between Gatineau and Val-d’Or. The Foreurs finished second in the West Division and will play Rouyn-Noranda in the first round of the QMJHL Playoffs, with Game 1 of the seven-game series on Friday.
Conner Bleackley (Red Deer Rebels): The Red Deer Rebels wend down the road to Calgary on Wednesday and fell 3-2 in overtime to the Hitmen. On Friday, the Rebels conquered Edmonton with a 6-2 victory over the Oil Kings. Facing Edmonton again the following night, the Rebels closed their regular season with a 3-2 loss. After being out of the lineup since Feb. 6 because of a lower-body injury, Bleackley made his return to the ice for the finale against Edmonton. Bleackley finishes the regular season with 49 points (27 goals, 22 assists) in 51 games. The Rebels finished third in the Central Division and will play Medicine Hat in the first round of the seven-game playoff series that begins Saturday.
Mason Geertsen (Vancouver Giants): Vancouver hosted the Kelowna Rockets on Friday and although it lost a close 4-3 game in OT, Geertsen did skate away with a goal. The Giants faced Kelowna again the next night but fell 5-2 to the Rockets in the season finale. Vancouver ended up missing the WHL postseason by seven points. 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. Earlier on Tuesday, the Avalanche signed Geertsen to a three-year, entry-level contract.
Will Butcher (University of Denver): The University of Denver Pioneers went up against Miami University in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff Semifinals on Friday, but fell 6-3 to the Redhawks. Butcher had a goal in the losing effort. The following night, the Pioneers turned around their slow start to the weekend and came out victorious with an impressive 5-1 win over No. 1-ranked North Dakota. The Pios were named a No. 2 seed and No. 5 overall on Sunday for the NCAA National Championship Tournament, which begins this weekend. Denver will play Boston College on Saturday in Providence, R.I., in the East Region semifinals. BC eliminated DU last year in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Butcher has three goals and 13 assists in 36 games this season.
Ben Storm (St. Cloud State University): St. Cloud State traveled to Minneapolis on Friday to play the University of North Dakota in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff Semifinals. The Huskies beat the No. 1-ranked team by a 3-1 score. St. Cloud State went on to play Miami University the following night but fell 3-2 in the conference championship game. The Huskies earned an at-large bid for the NCAA National Championship Tournament and will be a No. 3 seed in the West Region when they go head to head with Michigan Tech on Friday in Fargo, N.D. Storm has two goals and three assists in 31 games during his sophomore campaign.
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 competed in their fourth game of playoffs against Brynas IF on Wednesday and won 6-2. Lindholm’s team won all four contests in the opening-round series against Brynas in the SHL playoffs and will play Linkoping HC in the semifinals, which start Saturday. Lindholm has a goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating for Skelleftea in the SHL playoffs after finishing the regular season with seven assists and a plus-12 rating in 35 games.
Wilhelm Westlund (Vita Hasten, Allsvenskan): In its second contest of a seven-game playoff series against Modo Hockey, Vita Hasten suffered a 2-0 loss on Thursday night. On Sunday, Vita Hasten fell to Modo by a 4-1 score. Westlund’s team has lost all three of its matches so far in playoffs and will look to avoid elimination on Wednesday in Game 4 of the series. Westlund had 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in 40 regular- season games this year.
Luke Walker (Graz 99ers, Eishockey Liga): The Graz 99ers season ended March 3, as Walker’s team did not make the playoffs this year. Walker finished the season ranked first on the team in goals with 19 and second in scoring with 31 points. He also tallied five power-play goals and two game-winning goals in the 51 games that he played in 2014-15.
Jonas Holos (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl): Lokomotiv finished its regular season with a 32-19-9 record and lost its first round playoff series to Dynamo Moscow in six games. Holos recorded one assist in six playoff contests. He finished the regular season second among defensemen on the team in scoring with 19 points (10 goals, nine assists) after playing 60 games.
Denis Parshin (Avangard Omsk): Avangard fell 3-1 to Ak Bars last Tuesday and was defeated again on Thursday, this time by 2-0 score to eliminate it from the playoffs after five games in the East Conference Semifinals. Parshin had one assist in three playoff contests before suffering an injury in the first round. During the regular season, Parshin led his team in scoring with 56 points (25 goals, 31 assists) in 60 games, and finished with an impressive plus-18 rating.