Monsters In The Playoffs

Although the Lake Erie Monsters did not qualify for a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs, a few Monsters are playing on an even bigger stage this spring, the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Ten players who have spent time with the Monsters in Cleveland – Kyle Cumiskey, Chris Durno, T.J. Galiardi, Matt Hendricks, David Jones, Cody McLeod, Chris Stewart, Ryan Stoa, Ryan Wilson and Brandon Yip – are all currently with Lake Erie’s parent club, the Colorado Avalanche, for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A defenseman whose foot speed GM Dave Oliver notes as the best in the NHL, Cumiskey spent 33 games with the Monsters from 2007-09, recording 19 points (6G, 13A) and 20 penalty minutes. At the top level with the Avs in 2009-10, Cumiskey has set career highs in a single season, playing in 61 games, putting up 20 points (7G, 13A) and 20 penalty minutes.

The rugged play of Durno has kept him up with Colorado on a full-time basis since his fourth and final recall to Denver in December. Prior to that, the native of Scarborough, Ontario, had racked up the frequent flyer miles, as Durno was recalled three times before sticking with the Avs. After making his NHL debut with Colorado appearing in two games last season, Durno has put up eight points (4G, 4A) and 47 penalty minutes in 41 games with Colorado this year. Early in the season, Durno recorded 18 points (10G, 8A) in 17 games with Lake Erie.

Lake Erie’s fourth-leading scorer last season, Galiardi has been in Colorado since the beginning of the year, putting up 39 points (15G, 24A) and 28 penalty minutes in 70 games. In 2008-09, Galiardi was responsible for 27 points (10G, 17A) and 32 penalty minutes in 66 games with the Monsters.

Known for his hard hitting and consistent work ethic, Hendricks, who spent four years at St. Cloud State before turning pro, has been a full-time fixture with Colorado this season. Missing a good portion of 2008-09 due to injury, Hendricks recorded 29 points (14G, 15A) and 71 penalty minutes in 43 games with the Monsters prior to showing 13 penalty minutes in four games with Colorado last year. In the 2009-10 regular season, Hendricks recorded 16 points (9G, 7A) and 74 penalty minutes in 56 games with the Avs.

Jones, who began his pro career in Lake Erie with the Monsters inaugural team, has spent the better part of the past three seasons with Colorado. In 2007-08, Jones recorded 30 points (14G, 16A) in 45 games with the Monsters. Jones has posted 35 points (20G, 15A) and 18 penalty minutes in 90 games, all with the Avalanche.

A rugged winger from Binscarth, Manitoba, McLeod, who put up 138 penalty minutes this season, registered 101 penalty minutes and 13 points (6G, 7A) in 27 games with the Monsters in 2007-08. After his time in Lake Erie, McLeod has become a fixture as a bottom six forward with Colorado, recording 420 penalty minutes and 47 points (26G, 21A) in 202 games over the past three seasons in the NHL, all of which have been with the Avalanche.

Known by his teammates as “Stewie,” Stewart has lived up to his billing as a former first round pick, leading the Avs with 28 goals this season and finishing second in the Colorado scoring race with 64 points. A power forward from Toronto, Stewart led the Monsters with 25 goals in his first year as a pro in 2007-08. In three seasons with the Monsters, Stewart recorded 55 points (30G, 25A) and 118 penalty minutes in 98 games.

Tying for the AHL rookie lead with 23 goals in just 54 games, Stoa finished the 2009-10 campaign with 40 points and 42 penalty minutes with the Monsters. Promoted to the top league in professional hockey, Stoa has put up three points (2G, 1A) in 12 games with Colorado this season.

Acquired at the trade deadline in 2009 with a draft pick and Lawrence Nycholat for Jordan Leopold, Wilson spent three games in Lake Erie at the beginning of the season before becoming a mainstay on Colorado’s blueline. Posting 21 points (3G, 18A) and 36 penalty minutes in 61 games with Colorado, the Windsor, Ontario, native spent the final eight contests of 2008-09 in Cleveland with the Monsters.

After he capped a four-year career at Boston University with an NCAA National Championship in 2009, Yip’s first season as a pro began with Lake Erie on the injured list. After a lengthy period of rest and recovery, Yip recorded two goals in six games with the Monsters prior to climbing the ladder to Colorado for the rest of the season. Since making his debut in an Avalanche jersey, Yip has posted 19 points (11G, 8A) and 22 penalty minutes in 32 games with Colorado.

Fans can track Colorado’s pursuit of the Stanley Cup on the official website of the Avalanche, coloradoavalanche.com. Although the Monsters won’t be able to begin their pursuit of the Calder Cup until the coming fall, a few players from the Lake Erie roster will be in pursuit of the ultimate prize in professional sports this spring, the Stanley Cup.

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