From the Monsters Desk: Weekend of Divisional Clashes

Lake Erie defenseman Karl Stollery - circlingthewagon

Our beloved Monsters' [10-7-1] foray into Central New York on Tuesday kicked off a tough month with all games being division battles until Christmas. From now 'til then we see Rochester 5 times, including the Frozen Frontier game, Hamilton 3 times and Utica and Toronto a game each, only 3 of these will be at home. Time to make the donuts.

Since we last saw the Amerks [8-7-4] on November 11th, they have gone on a bit of a slide, losing 4 out of 6 until beating Hamilton Wednesday night. Lake Erie will play 5 out of the next 10 games against Rochester, so we need to start out on the right foot Friday night.

Hamilton's [9-8-3] last 10 games have been feast or famine, a 5 game losing streak followed by a 4 game win streak then Wednesday's loss to the Amerks. Hopefully the Marlies can soften them up a bit before we get together on Saturday night.

Hish interview! Doug Plagens talked with Joey Hishon about Lake Erie's performance in the win against Utica earlier this week.

Enjoy 10 questions from the Monsters Site with amateur juggler Garrett Meurs and everyone's favorite goalie from the Slurpee capital of the world, Calvin Pickard.

This week's AHL power rankings from the Hockey Writers is... interesting. Check the North Division out:

Toronto 10-7-1, rank 9th

Monsters 10-7-1, rank 15th

Hamilton 9-8-3, rank 4th

Rochester 8-7-4, rank 29th

Utica 4-11-2, rank 16th

Before the beginning of last year, I had never heard of Karl Stollery. In 2012, he finished a 4-year career at Merrimack College and signed a try-out contract with the Monsters for the end of the season, putting up 2 goals and 5 assists in 9 games. Lake Erie liked what they saw and he was signed to a pro deal.

Last season Stollery started out on the third defensive pair and was even healthy scratched a few times. By the end of the year he was Lake Erie's top-scoring defenseman, ending up with 5G/29A/34Pts in 72 games and was rewarded with a 1-year contract with the Avalanche. At 5'11 and 185 lbs., he's no Zdeno Chara and has always tended towards the offensive side of the game, but over the last year, he has also become quite good in all 3 zones.

With nothing approaching an experienced defensive defenseman on the roster, Coach Chynoweth has asked Stollery to forego some of his offense to become Lake Erie's shutdown guy on the blueline. Paired with Tyson Barrie or Matt Hunwick, he plays the toughest minutes and is a major reason why the Monsters don't have to score 5 goals to beat anyone this year.

He's not the fastest skater, or a gifted puck-handler, or an instinctual defender, but he does have the skills to do his job well and help the team win. And he can damn sure take a hit if he needs to. A few years down the line, I wouldn't be surprised if he was the new Nate Guenin story for the Avs.


Schedule:

Friday at Rochester 7:05pm, radio on WHKW

Saturday at Hamilton 7:00pm, radio on WKNR

Links:

Team stats

AHL standings

Preview from LEM site

* * * * *

In Pre-game 80's pain this week, we'll start out Friday with some very early Slayer, "Black Magic". For Saturday's game, a delicious cover of Led Zeppelin's "In My Time of Dying" by Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society. Enjoy!

* * * * *

I'll be here as usual updating the games and tweeting. Stop by after the Wild game on Friday for the 3rd period vs Rochester, or before Saturday's game for Monsters/Bulldogs.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, Meursy does too.


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