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Last-Second Goal Leads to Preseason WinTweet
In front of a capacity crowd at Hoover Arena, operated by IceLand USA, in Strongsville on Saturday night, the Lake Erie Monsters opened their third season with an exclamation point. Rookie forward Brock Bradford netted the game-winning goal with just four seconds remaining in regulation time to give the Monsters a 2-1 preseason win over the Rochester Americans. The game was the only preseason tilt the Monsters will play before opening the regular season in Rochester on October 3rd. The game was also the first for new Lake Erie head coach David Quinn, who replaced Joe Sacco earlier this summer when Sacco was promoted to head coach of NHL parent club Colorado.
Before Bradford’s late game heroics, it was goaltender Billy Sauer who kept the Monsters on even ground, as the rookie from the University of Michigan turned aside 26 shots on the evening. One of Sauer’s more impressive saves came early on, as he turned away an odd-man rush mere minutes into the contest.
Coming in on a two-on-one, Americans defenseman Matt Duffy wired a cross-ice feed from Lee Jubinville, only to be denied by Sauer, who smothered the puck with the Monsters crest on his jersey.
It was just more than 10 minutes after Sauer’s save – at the 14:59 mark of the first – that Lake Erie’s Kevin Schaeffer netted the game’s first tally. With the puck below the goal line, center Ryan Stoa flipped a pass through the crease to Schaeffer, who, from his spot at the point, snuck in at the top of the hash marks and ripped a one-timer over the glove of Rochester goalie Ryan Mior.
Heading into the second period with the lead, the Monsters defense yielded just eight shots to the visiting Americans, and Sauer’s solid play maintained Lake Erie’s one-goal lead heading into regulation’s final 20 minutes. However, one goal wasn’t going to be enough on this night, as the resilient Americans would keep Sauer busy, putting 11 shots on goal in the final frame.
Their persistence finally paid off for Rochester at the 17:53 mark of the third, as Andrew Sweetland tapped in a cross-crease feed from Luke Beaverson to even the score. The goal, while at even strength, came just as Matt Clarke’s slashing penalty was expiring and the Monsters were outmanned in their own zone. Stephane Goulet picked up the secondary assist on Sweetland’s tally.
And while it seemed the game was destined for overtime with the score tied and just two minutes remaining, Bradford and the Monsters had no plans of letting the game go into a five-minute sudden death period.
With the clock winding down and the Monsters rushing the puck up the ice, Bradford took a cross-ice feed from the right hash marks and ripped a wrist shot over the glove of Chris Beckford-Tseu, who came in to replace Mior midway through the second period. Schaeffer and David Marshall registered assists on Bradford’s game-winning marker.
Lake Erie will have the next week to practice before opening their regular season in Rochester next Saturday, October 3rd. The team will then open at home on Saturday, October 10th against the Rockford IceHogs at Quicken Loans Arena at 7:30 p.m. The first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive a free Monsters magnetic schedule, courtesy of Sugardale. Tickets are available by calling 216-420-0000 or visiting LakeErieMonsters.com.
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