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Monsters Go Up 1-0 on MooseTweet
The game marked the first of a best-of-seven series between Lake Erie and Manitoba. Following a 2-3-2 format in which Lake Erie has home ice advantage, the first two games will be played in Cleveland, before the series moves to Manitoba for two or three games (if necessary) and returns to The Q for two possible games if a series winner is still undetermined.
The Monsters were quick to take a 1-0 lead, as Matt Ford, who tied a franchise record with 26 goals during the regular season, scored just 3:27 into the contest. In the neutral zone, Ford stripped the puck from a Manitoba defenseman, sprinted down the right wing and tucked a shot under the blocker of Eddie Lack. Luke Walker assisted.
Manitoba answered at 6:50 of the period. After Travis Ramsey tried a shot from the right point, Marco Rosa was waiting at the doorstep to chip in the rebound and even the score.
At the 13:46 mark, Sergei Shirokov put the Moose up 2-1 when he took a pass from Rosa and scored on a slap shot from the hash mark.
After 20 minutes, the Monsters trailed 2-1 but led by an 8-5 shot count.
Just 1:41 into the middle frame, the Monsters tied the game off a shorthanded, unassisted breakaway goal by Justin Mercier.
The Monsters built a 3-2 lead with a power play tally at 10:40 of the period. Shawn Belle took a slap shot from the right point and Ben Walter buried the rebound from a sharp angle on the left side of the net. Greg Mauldin also recorded an assist.
Lake Erie went up 4-2 when Ryan Stoa took a pass from Mark Olver and scored on a one-time shot from the right hash mark at the 17:33 mark. Brad Malone, who was appearing in his first professional game, also recorded an assist.
The Monsters outshot Manitoba 10-8 in the period and carried their 4-2 lead into the second intermission.
Just 20 seconds into the third period, the Moose cut their two-goal deficit in half when Rosa took a pass from Bill Sweatt and scored off a one-time shot from the hash mark.
The Monsters answered and made the score 5-3 at 13:18 of the third. After taking a pass from Mercier, Ford entered the Manitoba zone in an odd-man rush and scored on a low wrist shot for his second goal of the game.
Ford’s goal chased Lack from the Manitoba cage, making way for former Lake Erie goaltender, Tyler Weiman.
With just 3:04 remaining in regulation, the Moose scored a shorthanded goal to make the score 5-4. Kevin Connauton drove to the Lake Erie net, took a wrist shot and scored on his own rebound to bring the Moose within a goal of the Monsters. Rosa and Guillaume Desbiens assisted.
In the final minutes of the third, Manitoba pulled Weiman in favor of an extra attacker. After Jason Bacashihua denied a Manitoba shot, Olver gathered the puck and fired a shot the length of the ice to solidify a 6-4 Lake Erie victory.
Bacashihua stopped 21 of 25 shots faced in the win, while Lack turned aside 19 of 24, before Weiman went 2-for-2 in relief.
The Monsters and Moose will continue their series on Sunday when they faceoff at 3:00 p.m. for Game 2.
Three Stars: 1. LE Ford (2 goals); 2. LE Mercier (1 goal, 1 assist); 3. MTB Rosa (2 goals, 2 assists)
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