Monsters Set for Pair Against Stars

The Lake Erie Monsters (33-27-3-7) are set for back-to-back games against the last place team in the Western Conference, the Texas Stars (29-35-2-2), at a time when the Monsters have to continue picking up points two-at-a-time. Texas is no pushover; they topped the Monsters 4-3 in a shootout at Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday, but the Monsters hope to have some momentum generated from their Thursday shootout victory in Houston over the Aeros. Catch Doug Plagens’ call of the game live from the Cedar Park Center in Texas this evening, with the opening faceoff scheduled for 8:05 PM on AM 1220 WHKW.

The Monsters entered Saturday back in the 10th spot in the Western Conference, but just two points back of fifth-place Houston and four points behind fourth-place Abbotsford. Sitting just a point up on the Monsters are Charlotte and San Antonio, who are in sixth and seventh places, respectively. Three different Monsters scored on Thursday, including rookie defenseman Karl Stollery, who scored his first professional goal late in the first period. The Monsters also managed a pair of power play goals in the shootout win, which was the first shootout victory for the Monsters since 3/3/12 at Quicken Loans Arena; a game in which they topped the Charlotte Checkers. The Monsters have now played 14-straight one-goal games, and have experienced 40 one-goal decisions this season; a franchise record.

A couple of Monsters whose comfort levels are noticeably increasing are Stollery, and center Mike Connolly. Stollery has points in back-to-back games, and has seen power play and overtime minutes for the Monsters over the last two games. Connolly has goals in back-to-back games, and his goals were big ones. One tied the game for the Monsters with under two minutes remaining against Texas on Tuesday, and the other gave the Monsters a one-goal lead in the second period on Thursday. Connolly will be relied upon more heavily with each passing game. Another addition to the Monsters: Colorado’s first round draft choice in 2011 (11th overall), Duncan Siemens. His immediate impact remains to be seen, but he was assigned to the Monsters Friday following the conclusion of his season with the Western Hockey League’s Saskatoon Blades.

Texas followed their shootout win over the Monsters on Tuesday with a 4-2 home loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs on Thursday. Key performers as of late for Texas, who is just 3-7-0-0 in the last 10 games, are Travis Morin, who scored a shorthanded goal against the Monsters on Tuesday. Morin has two goals and two assists over his last three games, and has goals in two-straight contests. Jack Campbell, the Dallas Stars’ first round draft choice in 2010, is coming off the first four professional starts of his career, and while he’s 2-2-0, he has stopped over 30 shots in each of the four games.

The Monsters and Stars play again on Sunday evening, with the puck dropping at 6:05 PM Eastern. Listen to Doug Plagens’ call of Sunday’s game on ESPN 850 WKNR.

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