The Blue Jackets' top affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL), opened their home schedule this weekend with a pair of games against the Iowa Wild at Quicken Loans Arena.
In front of a rocking crowd of 12,791 fans, the Monsters (1-1-0-1) played their best game of the early season. The two teams were locked in a 0-0 tie after 20 minutes, but Iowa struck first on a goal from Michael Keranen at 3:28 of the second.
Less than five minutes later, Kerby Rychel (who had been recalled to Columbus earlier that day and reassigned before the Monsters' home opener) scored his first of two goals on the night to pull even at 1-1.
Here's a rundown, courtesy of the Monsters: In the third, the Monsters rattled off three unanswered goals, first from Andrew Bodnarchuk at 7:01, assisted by Rychel and Markus Hannikainen, then a pair of empty-net tallies from Justin Falk and Rychel sealed the deal at 18:36 and 19:45 respectively, with Oliver Bjorkstrand and Michael Chaput collecting assists on Falk’s marker.
Lake Erie backstop Anton Forsberg posted his first win of the season thanks to a steady, 31-save performance while Iowa’s Jeremy Smith registered the loss despite an impressive 40-save showing.
On Saturday afternoon, the Monsters were foiled by Wild goaltender Leland Irving, who earned a 37-save shutout in regulation/overtime and then stood tall in the shootout for a 1-0 win in Cleveland.
From the Monsters: Throughout a tense, tight-checking battle, the Monsters and Wild failed to register a goal either way through regulation, and a three-on-three overtime period, thanks to superb goaltending from Lake Erie’s Joonas Korpisalo, who made 20 saves on Saturday, and Iowa’s Leland Irving, the author of a memorable 37-save performance.
In the Monsters’ first shootout of the season, goals from Sonny Milano and Oliver Bjorkstrand kept Lake Erie alive in the third and fourth rounds after Iowa received a second-round tally from Michael Keranen and a fourth-round conversion from Christoph Bertschy. Pushed to six rounds, Saturday’s shootout finally concluded when Lake Erie’s Alex Broadhurst failed to convert in the wake of a Brady Brassart score.
Up next for Lake Erie is a Thursday night showdown with the Manitoba Moose in Winnipeg. Game time is 8 p.m. ET from the MTS Centre.