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From the Monsters Desk: Week 11.1 - Griffs and Xmas Break

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The beloved Monsters [13-10-4] take on the Grand Rapids Griffins [13-10-3] for the eighth time so far this season tonight at the Q in the final contest before a quick Christmas break.

News

- Pat Nagle was sent back to Fort Wayne yesterday so with any luck Sami will be in net tonight

- Gabe Beaupre and Reid Petryk were reassigned to Fort Wayne on Thursday

- Dan Maggio stopped by the 19 Action News studios this week to chat with Tony Zarrella. Check it out here.

- The AHL named the Captains for the All-Star Game this week. Neither play for Lake Erie so BFD.

- Rick Sadowski wrote a nice article about Calvin Pickard for NHL.com.

- The boys donned their Christmas cheer and stopped by Stepstone Academy yesterday.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>The <a href="https://twitter.com/monstershockey">@monstershockey</a> team delivered Christmas presents to some of the kids at Stepstone Academy today. Good times. <a href="http://t.co/90t4wCQMcn">pic.twitter.com/90t4wCQMcn</a></p>&mdash; Alan Mowrey (@abmowrey) <a href="https://twitter.com/abmowrey/status/546031376802521088">December 19, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Interesting note: Sam Henley is as tall as Sully the Seagull

- Avs prospect and Cleveland area native Nick Magyar is home from Kitchener for the holidays, maybe we'll see him in the stands tonight.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Good first half to the season in Kitchener! Nice to be home for a little bit and spend time with family and friends! </p>&mdash; Nick Magyar (@NickMagyar2) <a href="https://twitter.com/NickMagyar2/status/546328271730659328">December 20, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Recap of Week 11 so far

The Monsters clashed with the Milwaukee Admirals on Tuesday and Thursday and earned a split. Roman Will started both due to what LEM called an LBI for Sami Aittokallio. I hate relentlessly tooling on the kid but he's just not been very good (.867 Sv%, 3.54 GAA) and doesn't give the team a great chance to win when placed in the net.

Tuesday night Roman let in a couple of softies and Milwaukee sat back and trapped and the Monsters never got in it. To be fair, the whole team looked pretty flat all night and MKE came out angry after a long losing streak.

Thursday looked to be going the same way with another couple of howlers past Will in the 1st and Milwaukee easing back to collapse and control. Mitch Heard decided to have himself a game. He took a horrible boarding penalty late in the first, then backed it up with a fight, but the penalty resulted in Milwaukee's 2nd goal. Groan. He wasn't done tho', midway through the second he got LEM on the board with a nice goal from Big Sam to cut the lead to 1. After another dumb cross-checking penalty in the 3rd, he took a nice shot from point which Paul Carey tipped in for the tying goal. It was the perfect Mitch night, a Gordie Howe hat trick plus 2 dumb penalties.

Late in the 3rd Stefan Elliott put home yet another fantastic wrist shot to give Lake Erie the lead and Aggz backed it up 26 seconds later with another nice one. This was fortunate because 35 seconds after that Roman had another one whizz by his glove to get the Admirals within 1 with less than a minute to play. The Monsters made it through #clenchtime and had their 13th win of the season.

Preview: Game 28

This is the eighth time the Monsters and Griffs have met in the last 3 months so a preview isn't really necessary. LEM are up 4-3 in the series and a single point in the standings. Not saying it's a must win, but a loss would probably put the Monsters somewhere around 10th for the Holidays.

Coach Dean did some interesting line blending on Thursday night. He basically rolled 5 lines, the top 2 and then 3 pairs from the bottom-6 with a top-6er matched with each. Kind of a wonky strategy but the result was a win. Don't think that's going to work long-term tho'. Also, you could achieve close to the same effect by having Troy Bourke in the lineup instead of one of the grinders.

Schedule

Monsters vs Griffins tonight at 7:00pm in the ET, radio on WHK 1420

Links

Stats

Standings

Preview from LEM

Next up

5 days off for the holidays then a trip to beautiful Central NY to play Rochester and Utica

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This one runs concurrent with the Avs game vs the Swords so check back late for updates and results. Enjoy!