Monsters Crunched at Home Friday Night

In their lone visit to Cleveland in the 2009-10 regular season Friday night, the Syracuse Crunch squeaked past the Lake Erie Monsters with a 3-2 win. Despite scoring first and tying the game late in the second period, Lake Erie was never able to take control of the game, and dropped their final contest against an Eastern Conference opponent this season. With the loss, the Monsters drop to 27-27-0-5 while Syracuse improves to 26-27-3-3.

Josh Aspenlind started the scoring off for the Monsters, netting his second of the year at the 11:16 mark. Standing in front of the net, Aspenlind picked up his own rebound from five feet out and lifted a backhander past the blocker of Crunch goalie Dan Taylor. Randy Rowe and T.J. Hensick picked up assists on the goal. The score would be the lone tally of the game’s first 20 minutes, and would send the Monsters into period number two with a one-goal lead.

Once the second period began, Lake Erie’s advantage wouldn’t last long. Coming in on a two-on-one break, Crunch forward Alexandre Picard faked a slapshot, freezing Monsters goalie Billy Sauer. With Sauer locked in, Picard slid the puck over to Derek MacKenzie, who pushed the cross-ice feed into an open net just 90 seconds into the game’s middle frame.

It would take another 12 minutes, but Syracuse would take their first lead of the game on Picard’s 17th of the season at the 13:22 mark of the second on the power play. When Tomas Kana’s shot from in tight was kicked out in the slot by Sauer, Picard picked up the rebound a few feet outside of the crease and put home the rebound. MacKenzie recorded the goal’s second assist.

Syracuse’s two-goal second period came thanks to the shot differential, as the Crunch put 14 pucks on net to the Monsters six in the middle frame.

Down a goal, the Monsters would knot the game just two minutes after Picard gave Syracuse the lead. With the puck at the point, defenseman Brian Fahey launched a bomb toward the Crunch net that Justin Mercier tipped past Taylor’s blocker. Scored at the 15:27 mark and also assisted by Ray Macias, Mercier’s seventh goal of the season would send the teams into the third period tied at two.

It would take more than 12 minutes for the tiebreaking goal to be scored in regulation’s final frame, but Trevor Frischmon would net his sixth of the season at the 12:27 mark of the third to put Syracuse ahead. Picking the puck up at the blueline, Frischmon came in the high slot and wired a high wrist shot past Sauer’s stick side. Kana and Grant Clitsome picked up the assists on the eventual game-winning goal.

After the score, the Monsters would be unable to muster any offense, and would drop a one-goal contest. Taylor finished the game making 26 saves on 28 shots for Syracuse while Sauer turned away 34 of 37.

Despite being the fourth-most penalized team in the AHL, the Crunch only spent a total of eight minutes in the box Friday, not giving the Lake Erie power play much of a chance to reach the scoreboard. The Monsters tied a season-low with just four penalty minutes in the loss.

“We were just not alert in the defensive zone tonight,” said Monsters head coach David Quinn. “We were puck watching, our wingers were slow to react to pucks, we were just mentally a half-step behind and it showed from the get go.”

The Monsters immediately return to the ice Saturday, when they host the Grand Rapids Griffins at 7:30 p.m. After Saturday, the Monsters wrap up their weekend with a 3:00 p.m. game against the Griffins at The Q. Tickets for both games are available and can be purchased by calling (216) 420-0000, by visiting LakeErieMonsters.com or by visiting any Northern Ohio Discount Drug Mart.

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