Monsters Lose Close One to Division Foe

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In their eighth and final contest of the year against the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Lake Erie Monsters dropped a close one, losing 3-2 against the Western Conference’s third-best team Sunday afternoon at Quicken Loans Arena.

“I just told the guys after the game that it was a couple mistakes that cost us,” said head coach Joe Sacco. “We competed hard, but we didn’t necessarily work smart all the time. Against a team like Grand Rapids, they have over 40 wins for a reason. You have to be at the top of your game and we weren’t.”

The first period would come and go without any score, as Monsters goalie Tyler Weiman turned away 13 shots and his counterpart, Griffins netminder Jimmy Howard, stopped all six Lake Erie shots on net.

Ville Leino would open the scoring, putting the Griffins up 1-0 at the 3:29 mark of the second period with his 15th goal of the season. Coming into the Monsters zone on a break, Leino took a cross-ice feed from Aaron Gagnon. Without hesitation, Leino unleased a snap shot from just above the hash marks that hit a Monsters defender and found the top corner of the net past the glove of Weiman.

But it wouldn’t take long for the Monsters to respond. Matt Hendricks would add his 13th of the season less than five minutes later to even the score. Coming into the Grand Rapids zone and running out of options with the puck, center Phil Dupuis spotted Hendricks, who was coming late into the play. Taking the pass in stride, Hendricks, who was in on Howard alone, deked to the back hand and slid the puck past the glove of Howard.

Taking the momentum from the Hendricks goal into the third period, the Monsters would score first in the final frame, as Per Ledin’s ninth goal of the game put the Monsters up, 2-1, just 51 seconds into the third. From the half wall, Dupuis pushed the puck to Ray Macias, who was standing at the point. Macias fired a shot toward the net, and had it redirected by Ledin past the blocker of Howard. With the pair of assists, Dupuis has recorded a team-leading 10 multi-point games and has recorded seven points (2G, 5A) in his past eight games.

But Grand Rapids would come back to tie the game less than eight minutes later, as Darren Haydar’s team-leading 28th goal of the year evened the score at the 8:16 mark of the third. With the puck in the slot, Leino found Haydar off to Weiman’s left. Standing all alone, Haydar tapped in the cross-crease feed just inside the post and past the glove of Weiman, tying the game. Garrett Stafford recorded the second assist on the goal.

Tied at two, the Griffins took the lead for good at 9:57 of the third on Francis Pare’s 22nd tally of the year. Carrying the puck behind the net, Francis Lemieux spotted Pare wide open in the high slot. Throwing the puck out in front, Pare one-timed the feed, blowing it through the five hole of Weiman. Evan McGrath picked up the second assist on Pare’s tally.

The game was Lake Erie’s last of eight in the regular season against the Griffins, as the team went 4-3-0-1 against their North Division foe. The Monsters return to the ice this Thursday, when they play host to the San Antonio Rampage at 7:00 p.m. at The Q.

The Monsters now sit nine points behind the North Division’s fourth-place Toronto Marlies, who, in the fourth spot, represent the last team the division can send to the Western Conference playoffs.

“It’s another setback and a tough loss and it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth,” said Weiman. “You just have to get back to work this week and get ready for Thursday.”

Quote, Unquote

"Usually we are a tough team to play against when we have the lead and just unfortunately a couple of mistakes end up in the back of our net and that’s a team that you can’t make mistakes against. You have to play pretty flawless against them and we didn’t in the third period. Give them credit, they just kept on coming and we couldn’t hold onto the lead. It’s tough because points are at a premium right now. We had the 2-1 lead and felt pretty good. It wasn’t our best game but who cares; we were still ahead and gave ourselves a chance to win. Unfortunately we gave it away.”- Head Coach Joe Sacco

“We played hard the whole game, it was just two mental lapses and that cost you. And this time of the year you just can’t afford to have those mental lapses. They capitalized and they are a good team. They can make you pay which they did to us tonight.” - Goaltender Tyler Weiman

"All the clichés I could sit here and tell you all night. You got to try and keep things fun, that’s important and just keep stressing getting better everyday. At the rink for practice, a game, weight room, anything, just keep getting better. We have a lot of young guys down here; the veterans know it is important to show them what it is like to keep working and how to focus on forcing other teams to win." - Center Matt Hendricks

 


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