Monsters Lose But Still in First

After Lake Erie claimed sole possession of first place in the North Division with a victory in Manitoba on Friday, the Moose answered by handing the Monsters a 4-2 setback in Saturday’s rematch, retying the two teams for the division’s top spot. The loss snapped Lake Erie’s five-game win streak, which had tied a season and franchise high. It also completed the Monsters franchise-best five-game road win streak.

Despite the loss, the Monsters are 29-23-3-5 and have won eight of their last 11 games.

Manitoba (30-20-1-5) built a 2-0 lead in the first period, starting with Garth Murray’s goal that was assisted by Kevin Clark and Jordan Schroeder at the 15:48 mark. Just 1:22 later, Alexandre Bolduc lit the lamp off assists from Guillaume Desbiens and Mark Flood.

The Moose carried their two-goal lead into the first intermission, as they outshot Lake Erie by a 17-5 count in the opening period.

In the middle frame, Manitoba went up 3-0 when Sergei Shirokov scored off assists from Clark and Murray at 6:42.

At the 8:17 mark, the Moose extended their lead to 4-0 when Mario Bliznak scored his eighth of the season. Bliznak took assists from Shirokov and Desbiens.

The second period ended with Manitoba leading 4-0, while they recorded 13 shots compared to 11 by the Monsters.

In the third period, Lake Erie’s power play – which struck twice in Friday’s contest – put the Monsters on the board at the 17:11 mark. Ben Walter scored to mark his sixth point (2G, 4A) in his last four games and he was assisted by Greg Mauldin and Justin Mercier. Mauldin’s assist came as his second in as many games, while Mercier’s helper marked his second point (1G, 1A) in as many outings.

With just one minute remaining in regulation, Luke Walker made the score 4-2 by recording his second point (1G, 1A) in as many games with a goal that was assisted by Dave Phillips.

The 4-2 score remained as the final, as Lake Erie outshot Manitoba 13-7 in the final 20 minutes.

Lake Erie goaltender Jason Bacashihua stopped 19 of 23 shots faced in his fifth consecutive start, the previous four of which had all been wins, before being replaced by Trevor Cann after Manitoba's fourth goal.  Playing his first game with Lake Erie since December 11th, Cann was a perfect 14-for-14 in 30 minutes in net.

At the other end, Eddie Lack 27-for-29 in the win for Manitoba.

The Monsters will return to Quicken Loans Arena to host the Hershey Bears at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 24th.

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