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Monsters Bash The Bears to Sweep WeekendTweet
The victory was the eighth in the past nine games for the Monsters and their 10th win in their last 12 games at home. Making 15 saves in the win, Monsters goalie Jason Bacashihua added to his franchise record, winning his eighth consecutive game.
“To win a third game in three nights, its unbelievable,” said forward Phil Dupuis. “I think right now we’re all excited to be in the playoff race and the guys are all pushing the same way. It’s exciting hockey right now.”
Bears defenseman Sean Collins started the scoring, notching his first goal of the season at the 6:49 mark of the first period. Taking a pass from the half wall, Collins one-timed it past Monsters goalie Jason Bacashihua. Francois Bouchard and Kyle Wilson picked up the assists on the tally.
It would take almost 10 minutes, but the Monsters would strike back, evening the score before the first period would come to a close. Coming through the neutral zone, Dupuis took an errant pass from Ray Macias in his skates, kicking it up to his stick. Burning down the right side of the Hershey zone, Dupuis fired a wrist shot past the blocker of Bears goalie Simeon Varlamov at the 16:07 mark.
The jostling for scoreboard supremacy would continue, as the Bears would pull ahead, 2-1, on Andrew Gordon’s 19th goal of the season at the 2:07 mark of the middle frame. Swinging behind the net, Wilson threw out a backhand pass to the slot that Gordon one-timed past the glove of Bacashihua. Collins would pick up the second assist on the go-ahead marker.
Less than two minutes later, the Monsters would come back yet again, this time on Randy Rowe’s fifth goal of the season. With the puck behind the net, captain Chris Durno put a pass on the stick of defenseman Aaron MacKenzie, who was waiting at the point. Sliding to the middle of the ice, MacKenzie fired a shot that clanked the cross bar and shot right out to the stick of Rowe, who made no mistake in burying it at the four-minute mark of the second frame.
Ninety seconds later, the Monsters would take the first lead of the game on Mike McLean’s first goal of the season. Coming into the zone, McLean fed a puck to a trailing Mike Vernace coming down the slot. Heading toward the Bears cage, McLean took a return feed from Vernace, one-timing the puck past the glove of a stretched-out Varlamov.
The rest of the second period would go by without any scoring, but Lake Erie would strike first in the final frame of regulation. But the Bears would claw back, closing the Monsters lead to one with Mathieu Perreault’s 10th goal of the season 22 seconds after O’Neill’s tally. Firing a puck from the point, Perreault’s line drive shot found its way past Bacashihua and into the net. Sami Lepisto had the only assist on Perreault’s tally.
Just as the Bears started gaining momentum, the Monsters would roar back on Matt Hendricks 10th mark of the season. The goal, a power play tally, was scored at the 5:55 mark of the third on the power play and was assisted by Durno and Dupuis. The goal was the seventh in the past seven games for Hendricks and his 13th point (8G, 5A) in the past 12 contests.
If there was any hope that the Bears could get back into the game, it was squashed on Per Ledin’s seventh goal of the season, notched on the power play at the 10:17 mark of the third. Skating into the Bears zone on an offensive-zone charge, forward T.J. Galiardi pulled up at the top of the faceoff circle, unleashing a slap shot. Making the save with his right pad, Varlamov kicked out the rebound to a hard-charging Ledin, who pushed the puck into the yawning net, putting the Monsters up, 6-3. Rowe picked up the secondary assist on the goal. In registering the primary assist on the goal, Galiardi has recorded seven points (2G, 5A) in the past four games.
“I think we’re learning how to win,” said Durno. “We have a young team here and something’s clicked and we’re feeding from it. I feel like we’re getting better every game.”
The Monsters push for a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs continues with a huge set of games this weekend, traveling to Syracuse on Friday and Toronto on Saturday to play teams that currently pace the Monsters in the standings.
“We have to battle to just get in the playoffs. But if we get in there, this team is built for the playoffs,” said Durno. “I think this is a team that could be dangerous come playoff time.”
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