Monsters Meet Marlies for Sixth Time

For the sixth time this season, the Lake Erie Monsters (14-15-1-1, 3rd in North Division) and Toronto Marlies (16-11-3-1, 1st in North Division) will meet, and the Monsters will try and carry some of the offensive success from last night’s 6-5 overtime win over Grand Rapids into the contest. The Monsters have won three of the previous five games between the two teams. A win cannot move the Monsters out of third place in the division, and a Marlies loss cannot drop Toronto out of the division’s top spot. However, a Monsters win means a return to .500, and helps the team build momentum moving into a stretch that will see the Monsters play six of seven games on the road beginning in Hamilton on Saturday.

An historic performance from center Evan Brophey helped catapult the Monsters to an overtime win a night ago. In his return from a three-game stint with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, Brophey registered four assists, tying a Monsters single game record. Not since David van der Gulik performed the feat on March 18, 2011 had a Monsters player picked up four helpers in a game. Brophey assisted on all three of Hugh Jessiman’s goals in the game, as Jessiman’s hat trick was the first for a Monsters player since Brophey scored three times on November 11 of this season against San Antonio. Jessiman now has 15 goals to lead the Monsters, and his six power play goals are also enough for a team lead. Jessiman now has 14 goals in his last 19 games, and enters today tied for fourth in the league in goals.

An offensive catalyst who shouldn’t be overlooked for the Monsters is rookie defenseman Tyson Barrie, who netted the overtime winner last night. He’ll need to continue contributing from the back end, and won’t be able to fly under the radar moving forward. Teams were already aware of his deceptively hard shot, but after his goal and two assists last night, his 20 points gives him sole possession of the Monsters scoring lead. With Barrie standing atop the team’s scoring chart, the Monsters are the only team currently led in points by a defenseman. And speaking of defensemen scoring, the Monsters usually have success when a blueliner finds the back of the net. Barrie and David Liffiton each scored last night, and with the overtime victory, the Monsters improved to 7-0-1-0 when a defenseman scores.

Joe Colborne remains the player to watch for the Toronto Marlies. As one of the premier NHL prospects in the American Hockey League, the 6-5, soon-to-be 22-year-old center and former first round draft choice continues to average over a point per game for the Marlies. With 11 goals and 12 assists in 20 games, expect to see Colborne playing a huge chunk of minutes for Marlies coach Dallas Eakins, especially on the power play.

The Monsters have proven that power play success, and quantity of power play chances does translate to success; after last night, they’re 7-3-0-1 when they have five-or-more power play opportunities. They scored twice on eight power play chances a night ago; both in the first period. Tonight, however, the task is sure to be a stiff one against the Marlies top-ranked penalty kill (86.4%).

Tonight is Rally Towel Night at Quicken Loans Arena presented by Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt. The puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM, and all the action can be heard live on ESPN 850 WKNR.

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