After our not-so-happy yearly jaunt to Texas the Monsters return to the only time zone that matters for a game in beautiful downtown Toronto tonight and back to the Q for a single home game against the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Author's note: Yes, I wrote an article elsewhere on the site about the Lake Erie/Colorado affiliation possibly being on the rocks. Until anything definitive is announced, I'm going to consider the Monsters to be the Avs affiliate into the future so I won't have to qualify every statement with "if that indeed is where the Avs affiliate is next year". And that said, nothing would make me happier than the Avs and Monsters continuing their relationship for many years to come.
- Barring 2 victories against the best team in the WHL this weekend, the Vancouver Giants and Avs prospect Mason Geertsen will start their off-season just after midnight on Saturday night. He will then be free to journey to Cleveland and join his fellow young Avalanche hopefuls for the rest of the AHL season.
- Another couple of Avs prospects who probably won't be coming to Cleveland this year, but certainly should next season, Chris Bigras and Spencer Martin are racking up some serious praise in the OHL. Read about it here.
Defenseman Chris Bigras was in the top 3 in Best Offensive and Defensive Defenseman and Smartest Player. Spencer Martin, who should challenge young Roman Will for the LEM backup goalie job, was voted Best Puckhandling Goalie and 2nd Best Shootout Goalie, which is nice.
- Speaking of young Roman, Komets beat writer Justin Cohn wrote some encouraging words about him here.
- Thanks to the influence of MHH's own cathyannhenry the Monsters have restarted their "Get To Know" series. Learn about Cowboy Troy and Corbs in this week's edition.
Recap - Week 24
The Monsters rolled through Texas gaining but 3 of a possible 8 points. First up was a game vs the Stars where they played well but their goaltender (Sami) did not and they fell 6-4.
After 19:58 of forgettable hockey on Friday night, Ben Street caught the Ramps napping and scored the eventual winning goal to cap off the 1st period. From there on the Monsters took over and played good defensive hockey (except for Gervais of course) and diligently kept the scoring pressure on. Ben Youds scored his 2nd PPG in 2 games, Kenny Ryan’s continuous gritty play around the net paid off with a goal and Trevor Cheek put the game away with an empty-netter late.
Street, Cheek and Ryan all had 1G/1A nights, Aggz had 2 assists and Duncan Siemens & Michael Schumacher both had assists. Pickard was fantastic and had his 2nd shutout in a row while also not allowing a goal in the last 7 1/2 periods (150:59 of ice time if my math is right). Siemens & Elliott continued their solid play as the top pair and even though they only had one point between them they were on the ice for all 3 even strength goals with Stef on ice for the PPG too. The top line of Aggz/Street/Petryk had 14 of LEM’s 30 SOG and really have some good chemistry going. The 2nd line of Schumi/Cheek/Ryan was stout too with 7 SOG and 2 of the 3 even strength goals.
Saturday's game was a different story altogether.
The Ramps tried 3 times to beat LEM with skill, and failed, so this time they went all goon squad all the time and that did the trick.
Mitch, Big Sam, Mat Clark and Duncan all had fighting majors. Maggio tried but no one would oblige. He got a misconduct anyway.
The Monsters had a 5+ minute stretch of PP including over a minute of 5v3 to begin the 3rd but couldn’t put the biscuit in the basket. They ended up 0/8 on the night.
Dean said yolo and pulled Picks with 7:30 left in the game, which of course led to Dany Heatley’s second goal of the night.
Aggz and Schumi had a couple of score effect goals to make it look somewhat respectable.
The officiating was atrocious in both games this weekend which probably led up to the 120 PIM shitburger the fans witnessed on Saturday night. I don’t know how the Ramps fans felt about it but it’s probably about as irate as we are. Things just got away and North Division Hockey broke out. Very unfortunate.
Tuesday's rematch vs the Stars was very even and ultimately came down to the shootout where the good guys fell. Lake Erie tied a team record with 49 shots on goal but only 2 went in, that's not getting it done. Both Stars goals came on glaring defensive errors. Youds with an ill-advised pass to create a 2v0, and Bruno not doing his job once again ended up with a puck in the back of our net. It evens out, Elliott’s goal was laughable when you see at least 3 Stars below the goal line and Stef all by himself in the slot. Still hurts tho’.
The Monsters sit, as they have for weeks, in 12th place in the WC. 5 more losses and they're out of the race.
Preview - TOR/GRG
The Marlies and Monsters have faced each other twice with LEM winning both, once in OT. Toronto is 2 points ahead in the WC. This would be a good time to win for sure, because...
Grand Rapids has risen past everyone in the Western Conference to the very top after a mediocre start. It's been 3 months since we played the Griffs so the 4-3-1 record won't mean much when the two teams face off on Saturday night for the penultimate meeting of the season.
Lines/Pairs from Tuesday's game:
Scratched: Duncan, Corbett and Kyle Jean
Injured: Smitty & Max
I can come up with only 2 reasons for Duncan's scratch. He was injured in a fight (again, grrr) at the end of Saturday's game or he was asked not to fight and did anyway and got benched for it. He's been playing well lately and there's no reason that Coach Dean would put Beaupre out with Stef based on recent performance. Hopefully he's all better for Friday's game.
Friday night at the Marlies 7:00pm in the ET, radio on WHK
Saturday vs Grand Rapids 7:00pm in the ET, radio on WKNR
Wednesday in Rockford then off to the Queen City of the South for the weekend
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Tonight's game precedes the Avs/Ducks game with plenty of time to spare and tomorrow's is all by itself so stop by and support your Monsters. Enjoy!