Calls of the Week with Ben Holden

Hello again Monsters fans and welcome to another action packed edition of our “Calls of the Week”. What a final week of the regular season it was for the Monsters. Just after midnight last week the Monsters learned they had clinched the first-ever playoff berth in the four-year history of our franchise. After Hamilton beat Abbotsford 2-1 late Tuesday night, about 12:30 a.m. eastern time on Wednesday, the Monsters knew the Calder Cup Playoffs this spring was reality. But just clinching wasn’t enough for our guys, as the North Division title was still a possibility with four games remaining in the regular season. The quest for the division title started on Wednesday night at The Q with the eighth and final regular season meeting between the Monsters and Toronto Marlies, a team the Monsters owned a 6-1-0-0 record against, and had just shutout the previous Saturday at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto.

Let’s drop the puck on this week’s “Calls of the Week” with some highlights from that Wednesday matchup at The Q. It was a game that saw the Monsters go 3-for-6 on the power play, and a game that saw goaltender Jason Bacashihua pitch his second straight shutout against the Marlies. The game was scoreless after 20 minutes but the Monsters got going 1:48 into the middle period when Greg Mauldin scored his 18th goal of the season. It came on the power play with assists going to captain Ben Walter and defenseman Shawn Belle. Here’s how the call sounded with Monsters play-by-play man Ben Holden on ESPN 850 WKNR.

The Marlies then took a 2-1 lead but the Monsters power play came through again with :35 left in the middle frame when Shawn Belle fired a shot in from the blue line for his sixth goal of the season. Walter and David van der Gulik helped set up that game-tying goal.

With the game tied at 2-2 in the third period, defenseman Julien Brouillette ripped a shot for his second goal of the season and this one came via the power play with assists from Matt Ford and Julian Talbot to give the Monsters a 3-2 lead.

Brouillette has scored three career AHL goals. Two with Lake Erie this season, while the other was in Milwaukee on March 19th. All three of his AHL goals have been game-winners in 3-2 victories. So the Monsters power play supplied the offense on this night, netting all three goals. Jason Bacashihua, who shutout the Marlies the previous Saturday at Ricoh Coliseum, was in net against the Marlies once again. Below are four of his best saves from Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the Marlies.

The first of the four came in the second period against Forward Ryan Hamilton with the game tied at 1-1.

Another great play from Cash also came in the second period against Forward Aaron Voros with the game tied at 1-1.

In the third period, Cash came up big again, this time against Forward Dale Mitchell with the game tied at 2-2.

Later in the third period Cash came up money again with a big stop on defenseman Korbinian Holzer on a Marlies power play with the Monsters leading 3-2.

And here is how Holden described the final seconds of the 3-2 win over the Marlies.

So after the 3-2 win over Toronto, the Monsters then made their way to Rockford for a game on Friday night to close out the regular season with their ninth three-games-in-three-days set. The IceHogs had won the previous two meetings against the Monsters with both of those wins coming at The Q in the form and fashion of 3-2 wins. On this Friday night, the Monsters knew if they won their final three games, regardless of what happened in the Hamilton at Manitoba two game set in Winnipeg, they would lay claim to the North Division title.

John Grahame got the start on this night and early in a scoreless game, Grahame made a big save on Mathis Olimb. Here’s how it sounded on ESPN 850 WKNR with Ben Holden on the mic.

With Rockford on top 1-0 in the first period, Grahame came up with this save on forward Peter Leblanc to keep it 1-0.

With Rockford still leading 1-0 lead late in the first period, Julian Talbot left the penalty box and captain Ben Walter made a great pass from near the Lake Erie blue line to spring Talbot into the clear for the breakaway. Here’s how the call sounded.

In the second period, Rockford would score three times to build a 4-1 lead. Here’s how the eventual game-winner sounded as Peter Leblanc scored it in a 4-on-4 situation.

Late in the second period, after a goal-mouth scrum ensued, defenseman Matt Generous dropped the gloves with Rockford forward Kyle Hagel. Here’s how the tilt sounded.

Early in the third period, with the Monsters shorthanded, Matt Ford scored his 23rd goal of the season. The goal came shorthanded, an area the Monsters have been strong in all season. It was Lake Erie’s 12th shorthanded goal of the season, it was the final goal of a 4-2 Lake Erie loss.

So after that 4-2 loss in Rockford the Monsters made their way back home for the regular season home finale against the Abbotsford Heat. Nearly 13,000 great Monsters fans showed up at The Q for Fan Appreciation Night, and with the great support of our fans, the Monsters did not disappoint as they skated to a 3-0 win. It was a win that coupled with Manitoba’s loss later that night against Hamilton, saw the Monsters clinch home ice for the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

In the opening period, Matt Ford continued his hot scoring touch with his team leading 24th goal of the season. It came with assists from Steve Oleksy and Julian Talbot to give the Monsters a 1-0 lead. Here’s how the call sounded on ESPN 850 and MY 43 WUAB with Ben Holden and Jock Callander.

In the second period Ford found the back of the net once again to make it 2-0. He got some help from a great low shot from the point by rookie defenseman Joel Chouinard for Ford’s 25th goal of the season.

Later in the second period, David van der Gulik, an Abbotsford, BC native and former member of the Heat, burned his former team for the second time this season with a typical van der Gulik goal when he went to the crease for his 15th tally of the season to make it 3-0.

Jason Bacashihua, who shutout Toronto the previous Saturday was on his game on this night as he pitched his second straight Saturday shutout. Against Abbotsford, he came up with 26 saves in the 3-0 win for his fourth shutout of the season.

With the game locked up and the Monsters leading 3-0, here is how the final call of the game sounded with Holden and Callander with 12,866 fans cheering the Monsters on.

So by 11:15 p.m. on the team bus to Rochester, NY, the Monsters were informed of Manitoba’s loss to Hamilton, thus clinching a first round home ice advantage for the Monsters in the Calder Cup Playoffs against the Manitoba Moose. So Sunday’s game at Rochester was a game that could not help the Monsters move up in the standings anymore so they knew they would have the highest division finish in franchise history. The next order of business was going for a franchise-best 44th win of the season, which the Monsters got on Sunday night, but not before a shootout was needed to beat the Rochester Americans by a final of 5-4.

The Monsters jumped on top early on in the first period when the line of Julian Talbot, Justin Mercier and Matt Ford stormed the net, and after a second look, Ford knocked in his 26th goal of the season to give Lake Erie a 1-0 lead. Here’s how the call sounded on ESPN 850 and at the end of the call, you will notice a strong and vocal group of Monsters fans behind the team bench voicing their love to the Monsters.

The goal by Ford tied the Monsters single season record for goals, congrats to Matt! In the second period, with the game tied at 1-1, the Monsters brought the heat and the pressure and scored three straight goals to build a 4-1 lead. Rookie defenseman Maury Edwards got his first pro point and it came in the fashion of a great goal. Here’s how Ben Holden described the play on ESPN 850 WKNR.

Later in the second, Curtis Fraser got his fifth of the season as a Monster to make it 3-1. Zach Cohen and Matt Ford drew the assists and once again, the Monsters fans from Cleveland made their presence felt with a thunderous roar after the goal.

Still in the second, captain Ben Walter scored his franchise-best 70th point of the season when he re-directed home a great pass from rookie forward Peter Boyd to make it 4-1. Ray Macias also assisted on the goal. Here’s how it sounded.

The Amerks came back with three straight goals to tie the game at 4-4 and force overtime, and in the dying seconds of OT the Monsters nearly won the game. There were some tense moments for sure after the Monsters came so close to winning the game, and then the Amerks came back down the ice as they tried to win it. Here’s how Holden described the final 15 seconds of the game.

So the final game of the regular would be decided in a shootout, a shootout that went to the seventh round. The Monsters had to score in the fifth round just to keep it alive and head coach David Quinn called on the young man I call “cool hand Luke”, Luke Walker to get the job done.

Round six had neither team score and we would go to round seven with Julian Talbot on the ice to try and win the game, and Talbot did not disappoint. Here’s the final highlight and moment from a record breaking 2010-11 regular season for the Lake Erie Monsters.

So the Monsters won the game 5-4 and capped off the regular season with numerous franchise records including 44 wins and 96 points! Way to go guys, we are all very proud of every person involved with our team! I Can’t wait for the playoffs and our “Playoff Calls of the Week”. Game 1 against Manitoba is scheduled for Saturday at noon at The Q. The first two games of the series can be heard on ESPN 850 WKNR. I can’t wait and I know our team, our staff and our great fans can’t wait either! See you in the playoffs, that just sounds great doesn’t it? Go Monsters!!!

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