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Monsters rolling, clinch home ice advantage

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Lake Erie Monsters were not satisfied with simply qualifying for the Calder Cup playoffs.

It’s a testament to the club’s growth; prior to the Blue Jackets coming on board as their American Hockey League affiliate this season, the Monsters had only one postseason berth in franchise history. They’re back for a second go-round in 2016, thanks in large part to significant contributions from several Blue Jackets prospects.

When they clinched a postseason berth a week ago, the Monsters were teetering between third and fourth place in the Central Division but had their sights set higher – they wanted home ice advantage.

And who wouldn’t?

The Monsters have one of the AHL’s best home records (24-8-1-4) and they play in front of one of the league’s best crowds; they routinely average 12,000-plus fans on weekends and call Quicken Loans Arena (a beautiful and top-flight building) home. It’s the NHL without being in the NHL, so to speak, and it’s a tremendous advantage for Lake Erie.

Playing their fifth games in seven nights (with travel included), the Monsters beat a desperate Charlotte team on Thursday night at The Q to lock up home ice.

“It’s pretty impressive from these guys,” Monsters coach Jared Bednar said. “If you look at where we were – a few weeks ago, we were fighting for a playoff spot – to come through that, dig in and find different ways to win every night, we’re coming together as a team. A lot of hard work went into it and I’m happy to see them succeed and get it done.

“We had a goal at the start of the year to make the playoffs and win the division. When we saw we couldn’t win the division, we set our sights on home ice. It gives us the best chance to advance in the playoffs.”

The Monsters, who are 42-22-6-5 overall this season (.633 points percentage) with one regular season game to play, close out their regular season schedule Friday night at home against Charlotte.

SEDLAK WITH THE HOT STICK
The AHL’s longest current goal-scoring streak belong to Lukas Sedlak, who has scored goals in seven straight games and has been one of Lake Erie’s most consistent players of late.

Known primarily for his defensive ability, Sedlak has nine goals in those seven games and sheepishly said following Thursday’s game that the puck is finding its way into the net – but there’s perhaps too much humility in that statement.

“Earlier in the season, I was getting chances and couldn’t score, and now, the bounces are going my way,” Sedlak said.

Alright, kid. But whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.

RELATED LINKS

- Monsters playoff ticket information

- Monsters 2016 Playoff Central

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