Monsters Downed By Rampage, 5-3

After a thrilling 6-3 win against the Toronto Marlies on Friday, the Monsters returned to play 24 hours later and dropped a 5-3 contest to the San Antonio Rampage Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena. Multi-point efforts from Matt Ford (1G, 2A) and Phil Dupuis (1G, 1A) weren’t enough for the Monsters, and Lake Erie’s record dipped to 22-22-0-4 with the defeat. San Antonio improved to 20-19-3-5 with the win.

Dupuis started off the scoring, netting his ninth of the season only two minutes after the puck dropped. Coming down the right side, Dupuis took a feed from Wes O’Neill and ripped a wrist shot past the blocker of San Antonio goalie Justin Pogge, giving the Monsters an early lead. Ford picked up the second assist on the goal.

It would take more than 10 minutes, but the Rampage would respond, as Brett MacLean tallied his 20th of the season to knot the game at the 12:39 mark. Coming around the right circle, MacLean turned the puck over to his forehand and snapped a wrist shot that squeezed between Tyler Weiman’s arm and inside the post. Kyle Turris and Sean Sullivan picked up helpers on the goal.

Just four minutes later, Turris would give the Rampage their first lead of the game with his 10th of the season. When MacLean’s pass hit a Monster defender in front, it popped up and Turris batted it out of midair past Weiman, putting the Rampage up, 2-1. Jeff Hoggan picked up the second assist on the score. Heading into the second, Sean Sullivan pushed the Rampage ahead by two with his 10th of the year a minute into the middle frame. With the puck at the point Sullivan wired a wrist shot from the point that found its way past Weiman’s glove. Hoggan and Turris recorded the assists on the goal.

But the Monsters would strike back and cut the lead to one on the power play with Tom Zanoski’s second goal of the season. With the puck behind the net, T.J. Hensick put a pass out in front that Zanoski snapped past Pogge to make it a 3-2 contest. Ford picked up the second assist on the goal, and with a pair of helpers on the night, recorded his fifth multi-point game of the season.

Less than two minutes after Ford helped set up a goal, he netted his ninth of the season to tie the game at three. Standing off to Pogge’s left, Ford tapped in a cross-crease pass from Dupuis, who picked up his fifth multi-point game of the year with the goal and assist on Saturday. Mike Bartlett recorded the second assist on the goal.

The next 10 minutes of the middle frame would stay tied until Chad Kolarik put the Rampage on top with his 15th tally of the season. With his back to Weiman, Kolarik took a pass in the slot from Matt Watkins, and in one turning motion, fired a wrist shot over the glove of Weiman to put San Antonio up, 4-3. Kevin Porter picked up the secondary assist on the Kolarik score.

Not content with a one-goal cushion, the Rampage put an insurance marker on the board at the 17:23 mark of the second with Stefan Meyer’s fifth of the season. When a goalmouth scramble ensued for puck possession, Meyer pulled the rubber disc out of the grasp of Weiman and flipped a wrist shot past the glove of the outstretched goalie and over a slew of bodies in front. MacLean and MacGregor Sharp registered the assists on Meyer’s goal.

Heading into the third with a two-goal lead, the Rampage buckled down defensively, and Pogge stopped all 10 shots the Monsters put on net in the final frame. By game’s end, Pogge had turned away 26 of 29 shots while Weiman made 23 saves on 28 shots in the loss.

“It’s a combination of things, but trying to get the offense going is the biggest thing and we know we have to play simple in our own zone and that’s when we have success,” said Ford. “But the best part about hockey is that there are only a few days before you get to play again and we have a good chance for redemption.”

The Monsters finish off their three-game weekend with a 4:00 p.m. game Sunday against the Marlies in Toronto. After Sunday, the Monsters return to The Q on Wednesday, February 3rd, for a 7:00 p.m. contest against the Rockford IceHogs. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (216) 420-0000, by visiting LakeErieMonsters.com or by visiting any Northern Ohio Discount Drug Mart.

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