Long Road Trip Starts with Loss in Hamilton

Photos courtesy of Donnie Pagel
A six-game road trip got off to a rough start for the Lake Erie Monsters on Friday, as they fell in Hamilton to the Bulldogs, 3-1. The loss ended a franchise-high four-game road winning streak for the Monsters, and brings the team to 16-19-0-4 overall on the season, including 1-3-0-0 against Hamilton. Beginning Friday, three of the six games during this nine-day trip are actually against the Bulldogs, as Lake Erie will return to Ontario again on January 11th and 13th. The last time the two teams met, the Monsters picked up their first-ever win at Copps Coliseum in a 3-2 victory on January 2nd.

Lake Erie and Hamilton kept pace with each other through the first period, as they rattled off nine shots apiece, with neither finding the back of the opponent's net. The opening 20 minutes came and went with no score.

The Bulldogs came out firing on all cylinders in the second period, more than tripling the Monsters in shots. Although Hamilton put up 13 shots in the frame compared to just four from Lake Erie, it still took until the 12:00 mark for the Bulldogs to convert. Ben Maxwell finally put the home team on the board with his eighth of the season at 11:54 of the second session, assisted by Brock Trotter and Frederic St. Denis.

Trotter would push his team's lead to two with a goal of his own with just 30 seconds left in the second. His power play marker was assisted by Yannick Weber and Maxwell, sending the teams to the locker room with the Bulldogs ahead, 2-0.

The Monsters responded immediately to begin the third period. It took only 12 seconds for rookie Ryan Stoa to cut Hamilton's lead in half with his power play goal. Stoa is second on the Monsters with 15 goals, just one behind leader Darren Haydar, and has recorded a goal in seven of the last 10 games. He leads all AHL rookies in both goals and power play goals. Brian Willsie and T.J. Hensick picked up the assists. Hensick leads the team with 22 assists and has recorded a point in all but five of the 19 games he has played so far this season.

Lake Erie would outshoot Hamilton, 14-10, over the final 20 minutes, but Bulldogs goalie Cedric Desjardins was able to hold the Monsters at bay and off the scoresheet. Mathieu Darche iced the game for the home team with his empty-net goal at 19:18, giving the Bulldogs the 3-1 victory.

Monsters netminder Tyler Weiman recorded 29 saves on 31 shots, while Desjardins finished the night with 26 saves.

The Monsters immediately travel to Rochester to take on the Americans on Saturday afternoon in the second of their six-game trip. The team will return home on January 22nd when they host the Texas Stars.

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