Jones Leads Shootout Win in Toronto

David Jones was the definition of clutch and Chris Stewart continued to play bigger than his rookie status on Friday, all of which led to the Monsters defeating the Marlies, 4-3, in a shootout.  The game in Toronto was the sixth time the teams have met already this season, and it would appear that Lake Erie has gotten the Marlies number, having won two of the last three match-ups.

The Monsters headed to Toronto on fresh legs, having not played since a 5-4 win over Manitoba at home on Sunday.  Lake Erie had revenge on their minds when traveling north, as they were hoping to avenge a November 21st 2-1 Marlies win in Ontario.  The Monsters wasted little time asserting themselves to Toronto.  Despite being shorthanded, Codey Burki converted on a pass from Steve Margeson at 5:08 in the opening period. Their lead would not last long, as Alex Foster quickly evened the score with help from Ben Ondrus and Robbie Earl. The teams would keep pace with each other for the remainder of the first and into the second.

Lake Erie lit the lamp twice in the middle stanza within a five minute span.  Stewart found the back of the net at 4:30, assisted by Michael Vernace and Cody McLeod.  Stewart's goal continues the recent hot streak for the rookie right wing.  He has posted 10 points so far in his first pro season, nine of which coming in the past six games alone.  Defenseman Vernace  continues to lead the Monsters in the assist category, notching his ninth of the season, and his third straight game with one.

Brent Kelly put Lake Erie on the scoreboard again just shy of five minutes later.  He was assisted on his first Monsters goal by Johnny Boychuk and McLeod again.  Toronto responded immediately, as Colin Murphy scored at 10:02 off a pass from David Ling, and pulled the Marlies to within one. 

The Monsters would hold onto that single-goal lead until mid-way through the third, when John Mitchell tied the game for the Marlies.  Foster assisted on the score, his second point of the night.  Kris Newbury also helped.  Defense took over from there for both teams, as neither was able to score for the remainder of the game.  The contest went to overtime, the second straight extra session game for the Monsters.

Five minutes came and went and neither side was able to gain the advantage.  During regulation and overtime, Jason Bacashihua deflected a whopping 42 of the 45 shots he faced in goal for Lake Erie.  At the other end of the ice, Marlies goalie Justin Pogge recorded 15 saves on 18 shots faced. 

After 65:00 grueling minutes of back-and-forth hockey, it all came down to a shootout.  Toronto had the first shot, and Ling capitalized. But then Stewart quickly evened the count for the Monsters.  Earl would miss the next one for the Marlies, but David Jones would not, giving Lake Erie the 2-1 advantage.  That wouldn't last  long, as Brent Aubin converted his shot, and Brent Kelly did not for the Monsters.  Murphy missed Toronto's fourth attempt, and Brad Richardson made them pay, giving Lake Erie the 3-2 upper hand heading into Toronto's last attempt.

Anton Stralman came through under pressure for the Marlies, evening it all at three.  Burki couldn't capitalize for Lake Erie, sending the shootout into sudden death.  Ling had the first chance for Toronto, but couldn't get past Bacashihua.  Having already scored on his first shootout attempt, Stewart could not repeat the success.  Earl missed again, leaving it all up to Jones, who sank his second shootout score and giving the Monsters the 4-3 win. 

The victory brings the Monsters to 6-11-0-2.  Lake Erie will return home for a weekend double-header, hosting Philadelphia on Saturday and Syracuse on Sunday.   It is one of six back-to-back-to-backs of the season for the Monsters.

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