Season Starts with Last-Minute Win

The Lake Erie Monsters rallied from a two-goal deficit to claim a 3-2 victory over the Syracuse Crunch in front of 12,524 fans on Friday night. The home opener marked the third time in four years the Monsters have opened their season at Quicken Loans Arena.

With the win, Lake Erie improved to 2-2-0-0 in home openers and 3-1-0-0 in season openers.

Friday marked the beginning of the AHL’s 75th season and while Cleveland and Syracuse are two of the league’s charter cities, both donned throwback jerseys to celebrate the occasion. The Monsters represented uniforms of the original Cleveland Barons, while the Crunch replicated the sweaters of the Syracuse Stars.

Syracuse struck first when it turned an innocent-looking play into a goal at 9:59 of the opening period. A quick transition in the neutral zone set up a two-on-two rush and Trevor Smith’s one-time shot gave the Crunch a 1-0 lead.

In the middle frame, the Crunch quickly pushed their lead to 2-0 at the 2:16 mark. After Monsters goalie Jason Bacashihua made a spectacular initial save, Brandon McMillan put home the rebound from close range.

The Monsters battled back to cut their deficit in half at 11:12 of the second period. After a flurry of shots, Justin Mercier picked up a third rebound at the bottom of the right circle and put a shot through net-front traffic for Lake Erie’s first goal of the season. Mike Carman and Matt Ford recorded the assists on the play.

Just 1:13 later, Julian Talbot gathered a loose puck at the hash mark and rifled a shot past Syracuse goaltender Timo Pielmeier to even the score at two goals apiece. On the goal, Talbot was assisted by Greg Mauldin and Ryan Stoa.

Lake Erie continued to sustain pressure in the offensive zone and dominated play for the remainder of the period, outshooting the Crunch by a commanding 19-4 count.

A fast-paced third period saw physical play from both teams and with just 2:58 remaining in regulation, the Monsters tallied the eventual game winner. Ford patiently carried the puck across the top of the left circle, spun around quickly and snapped a shot through Pielmeier to give Lake Erie a 3-2 win. Travis Gawryletz and David van der Gulik registered the game-winning assists.

Bacashihua made 13 saves in the Monsters win, while Pielmeier turned aside 35 shots in the loss.

The Monsters will embark on a seven-game road trip Saturday night when they travel to Syracuse for a 7:30 p.m. rematch with the Crunch at the Onondaga County War Memorial at Oncenter.

Three stars: 1. Ford (GW goal, 1 assist); 2. Mercier (1 goal); 3. Talbot (1 goal)

David Quinn Postgame Interview
Matt Ford Postgame Interview
Dave Liffiton Postgame Interview

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