CLEVELAND – In front of 10,025 fans at The Q, Cleveland’s Lake Erie Monsters defeated the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday by a final score of 5-3 to claim the team’s first Calder Cup Playoff series victory in franchise history, three games to none. With the win, the Monsters advanced to the best-of-seven game Central Division Finals vs. the winner of the Grand Rapids Griffins’ and Milwaukee Admirals’ first-round series.
Fresh off a three-goal showing in game two, Monsters right wing Josh Anderson provided Lake Erie a 1-0 lead on Saturday with a power-play score at 9:30 of the opening stanza thanks to a strong transition setup from T.J. Tynan and Monsters captain Ryan Craig.
In the middle frame, Tynan and Sonny Milano combined to feed Zach Werenski for an even-strength right-point finish at 7:40 to make it 2-0 Monsters before a five-on-five wrist shot from Rockford’s Jonathan Carlsson fooled Lake Erie net-minder Joonas Korpisalo at 13:54 to draw the IceHogs within a goal.
The two teams traded tallies in the third, as Oliver Bjorkstrand scored 19 seconds into the period on the power-play thanks to feeds from Daniel Zaar and Michael Chaput before Tyler Motte posted an extra-man finish at 8:49 to draw the IceHogs back within one at 3-2. Back-to-back even-strength Monsters goals ensued, from Zaar at 10:42, assisted by Jaime Sifers and Alex Broadhurst, and Craig at 14:58, on feeds from Trent Vogelhuber and Milano, to push Lake Erie’s lead to 5-2 before an ultimately inconsequential Mark McNeill five-on-five marker capped the scoring at 5-3 at 18:34.
Joonas Korpisalo improved to 3-0-0 in the playoffs in net for the Monsters by virtue of a 21-save performance, while Mac Carruth’s 21 saves weren’t enough for Rockford to prevail.
Tickets for the first two home games of the Monsters’ second-round series are ON SALE NOW at LakeErieMonsters.com/Playoffs with times, dates and opponents all TBD.