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In their home-opening game in front of more than 10,000 fans at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night, the Lake Erie Monsters dropped a hard fought 3-0 contest to their West Division rivals, the Rockford IceHogs.
The story of the night would be scripted by local boy Nathan Davis. A native of Rocky River, Ohio, Davis scored the game’s first two goals for Rockford en route to the win. With the loss, the Monsters hold a 3-2-1-1 edge against Rockford all-time and are 1-2-0-0 in the young 2009-10 season.
“For the home opener we had a great turnout, and that’s a credit to the fans of Cleveland,” said captain Brian Willsie. “We love to see it. Hopefully they keep coming out and we can put forth a better effort.”
When Monsters goalie Tyler Weiman went behind the net to play a dump-in early in the first, the puck took an unfortunate bounce as it was winding around the boards, careening out and into the slot to Davis, who pushed the puck into the open net at the 6:49 mark of the first. Evan Brophey and Richard Petiot picked up helpers on the goal.
The second period would go by without any score, as Weiman stopped all 12 Rockford shots he faced and IceHogs netminder Corey Crawford turned away all five Monsters shots. Lake Erie’s efficient penalty kill also kept it a one-goal game in the middle frame, as the team killed six minutes of Rockford power play time.
Heading into the third trailing by one, Davis would put in his second goal of the game and the season midway through the third on the power play. Taking a pass from below the goal line from Brophey, Davis squeezed a one-timer between the outstretched left pad of Weiman and the post. Akim Aliu registered the secondary assist on the goal.
Despite the deficit, the Monsters kept the pressure on Crawford only to be denied each time. By the end of the night, Crawford had made 16 saves on as many shots. Weiman’s strong play kept Lake Erie in the game, as he turned away 24 of 26 shots on goal, but the team’s offense came up empty in its bid to help their All-Star goalie.
“Tyler’s proven at this leveI,” said head coach David Quinn. “I’m not surprised that he played the way he did. One of the reasons we did a good job of killing penalties was because he was in the net.”
Rockford center Mark Cullen would go on to ice the game, registering an empty-net goal with 42 seconds left in regulation. Kyle Greentree and Petiot picked up assists on the game’s final score.
“It was a game we really felt we could have come back and won,” said Willsie. “But they were a hungry team and it showed, and that’s a little frustrating.”
The Monsters return to The Q on Tuesday, as they play their second home game of the season against the San Antonio Rampage at 7:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by going to LakeErieMonsters.com or by calling (216) 420-2000.
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