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From the Monsters Desk: Week 15 - Midwest Death March

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The beloved Monsters headed to the midwest yesterday morning to begin an extremely difficult 3-in-3 road weekend. Tonight they play the Chicago Wolves then head to Iowa for Saturday night and Sunday afternoon games against the hapless but improving baby Wilds

News

- Reto Berra has been sent to Lake Erie for a 2-week "conditioning assignment". He arrived in time to practice with the team on Monday morning and is scheduled to play the next 5 games vs Chicago, Iowa and San Antonio.

- Calvin Pickard was called up to the Avalanche on Monday and started Tuesday in a 3-2 shootout loss to Carolina. Whether he stays with the Avs probably depends on Berra's performance over the next couple of weeks.

- Ben Street's hand injury has healed and he participated in the Carolina game with the Avs as well. Wednesday he was sent back to Lake Erie and should be in the lineup tonight.

- Dennis Everberg was called up to the Avs to take Street's place on the roster and played last night against Florida.

- Borna Rendulic injured his foot against Florida, no word on the extent of the injury. The cynic in me believes that he might have been heading back to LEM soon, now we'll wait and see.

- As of last weekend, the Monsters injury report has Markus Lauridsen out with a shoulder issue and Tomas Vincour out with UBI. Vinny's been skating with the team regularly, no word on Moose.

- Dan Maggio was suspended for a game by the AHL for a boarding incident against Hamilton last Saturday. No penalty call was made at the time. He will sit out against Chicago tonight.

- Roman Will earned ECHL Goaltender of the Week honors, going 1-0-1 with a .962 Sv% and 1.45 GAA. He's the third Monster to receive player/goalie of the week with the K's this year, joining Mitch Heard and Garrett Meurs. Well done!

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Congratulations Roman Will <a href="https://twitter.com/Willda29">@Willda29</a>! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ECHL?src=hash">#ECHL</a> Goaltender of the Week! <a href="http://t.co/ZcQcBZuI3y">http://t.co/ZcQcBZuI3y</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LetsGoKomets?src=hash">#LetsGoKomets</a>! <a href="http://t.co/mN4YdT94rK">pic.twitter.com/mN4YdT94rK</a></p>&mdash; Fort Wayne Komets (@FWKomets) <a href="https://twitter.com/FWKomets/status/555053438271492096">January 13, 2015</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

- Rumors out of Norfolk have the Anaheim Ducks closing in on purchasing the Admirals to move them west to San Diego next season for the new AHL Pacific Division. I expect a big announcement in a couple weeks during the AHL All-Star Weekend. So far we have heard that Edmonton will move the Barons to Bakersfield, LA will move the Manchester Monarchs to Ontario and the Anaheim/San Diego deal. The Sharks are expected to move Worcester somewhere in California, perhaps even to play in San Jose, and that Calgary will move Adirondack somewhere in the state.

- Also rumored is the reduction of the AHL schedule next year to 72 or even 66 games, which makes great sense for the NHL-owned clubs but won't make the independents happy.

Week 14 Recap

The Monsters fell 5-2 to Rochester in a gruesome game Friday night but came back to win a gritty 2-1 contest at Hamilton Saturday.

After a horrifying opening 7 minutes, the Monsters played the Amerks even or better but the damage was too much to overcome. Picks let in a bad one 4:26 in, then some bad defense made an easy save hard 44 seconds later and he was on the bench. Sami promptly let in another terrible goal 90 seconds into his play and capped it off with another goal that silly defensive play made difficult towards the end of the period. Pickard came back in and finished the final 41 minutes with no goals against.

Last month’s 6-game win streak is but a distant memory now and Lake Erie had a full week of practice to fix what ailed them and prepare for a depleted Amerks squad but nothing changed. A poor start, defensive zone woes and anemic offense plagued the team once again.

Joey Hishon had another good game, tallying a goal and assist in the Monsters only goals. Maybe the demotion to the 4th line was a wakeup call, maybe getting him away from Rendulic did the trick, whatever changed it’s great to see him contributing again. Dennis Everberg was a beast, also scoring a goal and playing double shifts until he was hit in the face with a stick (or puck?) late in the 3rd and couldn’t return.

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Saturday night's game at Hamilton was a tight defensive battle, but an interesting one. Through 2 periods both Calvin Pickard and Mike Condon were perfect 16/16 and neither team was giving up much space for the offenses to work. Right off the opening faceoff in the 3rd Karl Stollery sent an amazing stretch pass up to Joey Hishon, who split the ’Dogs D and broke away for a fantastic goal. Hamilton managed to claw back to even with a well executed tic-tac-toe to Charles Hudon 7 minutes later. Trevor Cheek became the hero of the day with just over 3 minutes left in regulation when Mitch Heard won a faceoff back to Max Noreau, who took half a lap around the zone and found Cheek for an impressive one-timer. The Monsters clamped down, the fans clenched, and the badly needed 2-1 victory was sealed.

Gabe Beaupre made his return to the LEM lineup after hanging in Ft Wayne for a few weeks and played physical while getting 3 SOG and the nightly penalty. I like his physical presence on D, something the Monsters don’t have a lot of, but I like what Corbett brings as far as moving the puck too. It’s a shame we can’t see both in the lineup and Bruno in the stands for a game. Maggio replaced Troy Bourke in what I’ll call a "waste of talent" move.


Weekend Preview: Chicago & Iowa

Lake Erie has split 4 games with Chicago so far, losing both on the road and winning both at home. Chicago sits in 8th place in the WC right now, 7 points ahead of the Monsters, and are in a mediocre stretch going 5-4-1 in their last 10.

This will be the first time the Monsters face Iowa this season. The Wilds started out 2-12 and fired their head coach, but have gone 9-10-2 since.

The Monsters will be dealing with a huge wild card this weekend with Reto Berra in net. He hasn't played a game in over a month and certainly wasn't very good before that. Patrick Roy keeps insisting that Berra will play all 3 games this weekend which makes little sense. Back-to-backs are a losing proposition for most goalies but a 3-in-3 with a day game after a night game is almost a guaranteed loss. Let's hope sanity prevails and Sami gets one of the games.

We lose Dennis Everberg to the Avs but gain Ben Street, who has a goal, assist and 16 SOG in 4 games this year for LEM.

The Monsters sit in 12th place with a 15-15-5 record right now, more than one loss this weekend is unacceptable.

Lines from last Saturday night:

Carey/Hish/Evs
Aggz/Boss/Ryan
Schumi/Henley/Smitty
Cheek/Heard/Mags

Stollery/Stef
Duncan/Noreau
Boop/Gervais

Scratched: Bourke, Corbett

Schedule

Friday night at Chicago 8:00pm in the ET, radio on WKNR

Saturday night at Iowa 8:00pm in the ET, radio on WHK

Sunday afternoon at Iowa 4:00pm in the ET, radio on WKNR

Links

Stats

Standings

Preview from LEM

Next up

Thursday and Saturday games vs San Antonio at the Q

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Neither tonight's game or Sunday afternoon's conflict with the Avs so stop by and root on Yogi and the beloved Monsters on this grueling road swing. Updates and recaps can be found here and on twitter as usual. Enjoy!