Late Comeback Ends in Shootout Loss

Photos courtesy of W2 Photography
Friday in Abbotsford marked contest number six of a seven-game, 11-day road trip for the Lake Erie Monsters. The team showed the effects of their recent travel, giving up two quick goals in the first period to the Heat and finding themselves down 2-0 until midway through the third period.

Then the Monsters kicked out two goals in five minutes to send the game to overtime before eventually falling in a shootout, losing to the Heat 3-2. It was the sixth shootout in the past month for the Monsters, who won three of those. Lake Erie is now 30-30-0-7 and five points out of the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division with 13 games remaining.

The first Abbotsford goal did not come until 15:15 in the first period, scored shorthanded and unassisted by David Van der Gulik.

The Heat struck again right away, scoring at 17:50 off the stick of Radek Smolenak. J.D. Watt and Ben Gordon were credited with the assists, putting the home team up 2-0 to end the first.

The second period would come and go with no change on the scoreboard, as the teams kept pace with each other through the middle 20 minutes.

Abbotsford held onto their two-goal advantage until the midway point of the third period, when Ryan Stoa found the back of the net at 10:48. T.J. Hensick assisted. Stoa is third on the team in goals with 19, despite only playing 45 games. Friday was the rookie's first game back with Lake Erie since February 28th, having been with the team's NHL parent club in Colorado. Hensick's helper was his team-leading 37th on the season.

Five minutes later Brett Skinner tied it up for the Monsters, scoring at 15:59 of the third. Darren Haydar and Travis Gawryletz assisted on the tying goal. Haydar leads Lake Erie with 56 (22G, 34A) points so far this year.

Both teams kept each other's offense at bay for the last five minutes of regulation, sending the game into sudden death overtime. Both teams got off two shots apiece in the five-minute extra frame, but failed to score.

The visiting Monsters had the first attempt in the shootout, a miss by Hensick. Abbotsford's shooter missed his opportunity as well. Stoa shot second for Lake Erie and converted, giving them the 1-0 advantage, which they would retain until Abbotsford's fourth attempt. Brett Sutter found the back of the net for the Heat, notching the shootout at one apiece. The Monsters fifth shooter, Brock Bradford, missed, setting up Abbotsford's Garth Murray to sink their fifth and final chance, giving the heat the 3-2 win.

Monsters netminder John Grahame recorded 35 saves on 37 shots in 65 minutes before allowing two shootout goals on five attempts. Abbotsford goalie David Shantz posted 38 saves on 40 shots in regulation and overtime, followed by stopping four of five shooters.

The two teams will meet again on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. EST.

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