ONTARIO, CA – On the heels of a 4-3 Game 1 victory on Saturday, Cleveland’s Lake Erie Monsters hung on for a thrilling, 3-2 victory over the defending Calder Cup Champions, the Ontario Reign, on Sunday at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.
The Monsters lead the best-of-seven game series 2-0 and will face off vs. the Reign in Game 3 of the series on Tuesday at 7:00 pm at The Q in downtown Cleveland.
The Monsters opened the scoring at 12:28 of the first period when Markus Hannikainen potted his first of the postseason with a delayed penalty on its way, thanks to assists from Lukas Sedlak and Ryan Craig. Then, off the ensuing center-ice draw, Sedlak buried a two-on-one, even-strength wrist shot from the left faceoff dot to make it 2-0 Lake Erie on feeds from Michael Paliotta and Justin Falk.
The middle stanza’s lone marker went T.J. Tynan’s way on the power-play at 4:40, courtesy of a slick setup by Craig and Steve Eminger to make it 3-0 Lake Erie heading into the final period. In the third, Ontario received five-on-five scores from Paul Bissonnette at 5:31 and Kevin Gravel at 12:48 to pull within a goal, but Lake Erie hung on in a hectic final sequence to secure a 3-2 Game 2 victory and a 2-0 series lead as the Western Conference Finals shift to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Tuesday night.
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Anton Forsberg improved to 3-0 in the playoffs in net for Lake Erie by virtue of a 27-save performance, while Peter Budaj took the loss between the pipes for the Reign despite making 18 saves.
Next up for the Monsters, it’s Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals vs. the Reign on Tuesday with full coverage, live from The Q, underway at 7:00 pm on ESPN 850 WKNR and the Monsters Hockey Network.