Monsters Faceoff Against Aeros

Following Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime win over Toronto, the Lake Erie Monsters (13-13-1-1) will hit the ice for the fourth game of their current five-game homestand when they welcome in the Houston Aeros (14-8-1-3) for the second meeting of the season between the two clubs, and first meeting this season at Quicken Loans Arena. All the action begins at 7:00 PM. The Monsters snapped a four-game losing streak with last night’s win over Toronto, and Houston is coming off a 4-3 shootout win on Sunday over the Oklahoma City Barons; the Aeros are 8-2-0-1 over their last 11 games.

The Monsters fell behind 2-0 a night ago, but stormed back with three unanswered tallies courtesy of Brad Malone, Mike Sgarbossa, and Tyson Barrie. Malone’s goal was his fifth of the season, Barrie’s was his sixth, and Sgarbossa netted his team-leading 11th of the campaign. Toronto tied the game late in the third to force overtime, when David van der Gulik netted the overtime winner. The Monsters out-shot Toronto 37-16 in the game, including 16-2 in the second period. The Monsters also managed the only two shots in the overtime period.

David van der Gulik’s display last night was a prime example of leading by example, laying it all on the line, and sacrificing the body to make plays. He was rewarded with a goal and three assists; the first four-point game of the season for any Monsters player. Mike Sgarbossa is also on a hot streak offensively, with points in three straight games. Over the last three contests, he has two goals and three assists. He also put two pucks in the net the last time the Monsters and Aeros played; a 5-4 Monsters shootout win in Houston on November 9. Both will be keys to the Monsters success tonight.

A pair of rookie forwards- Mikael Granlund and Jason Zucker- are forces offensively for the Aeros. A product of Finland, Granlund is making his North American professional debut at age 20, and despite missing 12 games due to injury this season, the Minnesota Wild’s ninth overall pick in the 2010 draft has 14 points in 14 games. Zucker enters Thursday tied for third among rookies in points with 22; a total that’s three behind the Monsters Mike Sgarbossa’s 25 points, which places him second among rookies. Zucker, a native of Newport Beach, California, was a second round selection- chosen 59th overall- in the 2010 draft.

All of tonight’s action from Quicken Loans Arena can be heard live beginning at 7:00 PM on ESPN 850 WKNR with Doug Plagens on the play-by-play.

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