Trio Leads Monsters to Win in Rockford

The Lake Erie Monsters came into Rockford looking for a win to build momentum at the beginning of a series of three games in three nights on the road. They did so with a hard-fought, 7-4, victory on Friday night against the Rockford IceHogs.

The Monsters began the scoring as they came out hot following numerous opportunities for Rockford in the Lake Erie zone. Center Brent Kelly took off into the Hogs zone on a breakaway pass from winger Brad Richardson. Kelly wristed the puck into the net on the shorthanded opportunity at the 8:32 mark of the first period. Also credited with an assist on the Kelly marker was defenseman Wes O’Neill.

The Monsters then went on a 4-3 advantage and made the IceHogs pay quickly for their sin. Off the first face-off, T.J. Hensick launched a disc top shelf that Hogs starting goaltender Wade Flaherty barely saw. Credited with the helpers on Hensick’s tally were Richardson and centerman Wyatt Smith at the 9:27 mark of the first.

Lighting struck twice for Kelly in the first period as he posted his second tally of the night, as well as the period, at the 12:14 mark of the first. Richardson and left wing J.D. Corbin were given the helpers on the goal. Richardson posted three points in a period for the first time this season. His three assists also mark his second three-point game of the year.

Rockford answered back as they went on a 5-3 man advantage after the Monsters were called for two penalties nearly back-to-back with less than six minutes remaining in the first. Putting the Hogs on the board for the first time of the night was Kris Versteeg. On the helpers were Martin St. Pierre and Derek Nesbitt at 14:42 of the first.

St. Pierre decided to add to his first point of the night less than two minutes later, as he added another assist by feeding Derek Nesbitt from the right slot.  Nesbitt beat Monsters netminder Mike Wall blocker side at the 16:18 mark. Jerramie Domish was also credited with an assist on the marker.

The action-packed first period was followed by a hard-fought second as both teams looked for every opportunity to take the game over.

Rockford did so as they seized the moment on the power play when Nesbitt notched his second score of the night on a pass from St. Pierre yet again.  Jim Fahey was also credited with an assist on the marker at 15:28 of the second period.

A Brian Bickle score finished four unanswered IceHog goals, as Rockford did their best to defend their home ice. Bickle scored his 16th goal of the season with assists from Colin Fraser and Justin Fletcher at the 17:58 point of the second.

Lake Erie’s Smith stole back the tie with ease on a loose rebound that Mike Brodeur left to his blocker side at 3:19 of the third period. Hensick and Mitch Love were credited with the assists on Smith’s eighth goal of the season. Smith’s marker stopped the four-goal onslaught that Rockford threw the Monsters way, and began one of their own.

Smith added another tally when Jamie Lundmark made a pass that dropped the jaws of every fan in the barn at the 10:57 mark of the third.

The Monsters scored almost immediately again at 11:37 of the third period on a goal by Eric Healey, who received a pass from behind the cage by Jeff Jillson and Dan DaSilva. 

Brent Kelly topped off the Monsters victory by adding an empty-net goal to finish his night off with his first hat-trick of the season. He was assisted by Smith, who finished with four points of his own on the night.  Two of Kelly’s three markers on the night were short handed.

The last time the Monsters had a short handed goal and a power play goal in the same game was February 9th in a 3-2 victory at home against the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Monsters goaltender Mike Wall turned away 24 of the 28 shots he faced on the night. IceHogs starting goalie Flaherty stopped six of nine shots before getting yanked after 12:14 in net. His replacement Brodeur denied 19 of 22 shots in the loss.

The Monsters now head to Peoria on Saturday night to face the Rivermen at 8:07 p.m. Catch all the Monsters hard-hitting action on FSN Ohio.

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