CLEVELAND – After taking games one and two on Saturday and Sunday in California, Cleveland’s Lake Erie Monsters defeated the defending Calder Cup Champions, the Ontario Reign, by a 4-0 score on Tuesday at The Q in Game 3 of the AHL’s Western Conference Finals.
With the win, the Monsters extended their lead in the best-of-seven series against the Reign to 3-0 and, with a victory in Thursday’s Game 4 in Cleveland, can advance to the Calder Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history.
Lake Erie surged to a 3-0 lead on Tuesday behind three unanswered even-strength goals in the opening period. An unassisted tally from Oliver Bjorkstrand at 6:00 gave way to Sonny Milano’s fourth of the playoffs at 7:50, assisted by Steve Eminger and Trent Vogelhuber, and a Josh Anderson marker at 10:27, set up by Kerby Rychel and Eminger. In the second period, Lake Erie extended their edge to 4-0 at 16:31 on Markus Hannikainen’s second goal in as many games, thanks to a crisp setup from Lukas Sedlak and Bjorkstrand.
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After a scoreless third period, Monsters goaltender Anton Forsberg improved to 4-0 in net for Lake Erie in the playoffs after posting the first shutout by a Monsters net-minder this postseason, a 26-save performance. Meanwhile, Ontario’s Peter Budaj allowed four goals on 21 shots faced in two periods of work before Michael Houser stopped each of the six shots he faced in relief in the third period for the Reign.
Next up for the Monsters, it’s Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday vs. Ontario with full coverage, live from The Q, underway at 7:00 pm on ESPN 850 WKNR and simulcast on Fox Sports Ohio and the Monsters Hockey Network.