Monsters Feel the Heat, Fall in Shootout

The Lake Erie Monsters ended their season Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena with a 4-3 shootout loss to the playoff-bound Abbotsford Heat in front of more than 14,000 fans. With the shootout defeat, the Monsters earned a point, setting a new franchise mark for points in a season with 77. Lake Erie ends 2009-10 with a 34-37-1-8 mark while Abbotsford moves to 38-29-5-7 with the win.

Josh Aspenlind started the scoring for the Monsters, netting his third goal of the season six minutes into the game. Standing in front of Abbotsford goalie David Shantz, Aspenlind redirected a Brian Fahey wrist shot that was going wide of the net just inside the post past Shantz’s blocker. Colby Cohen picked up the secondary assist on the goal, his first point as a professional in his third game with the Monsters. Cohen had spent the previous three years at Boston University.

Just 80 seconds later, rookie Mark Olver padded the Lake Erie lead to two, netting his second goal of the season. After a turnover in the Heat zone landed on Olver’s stick, the first-year pro moved into a one-on-one with the Abbotsford goalie. Cutting across the slot, Olver dipped his shoulder, putting the puck on his backhand before sliding it through Shantz’s fivehole. With the goal, Lake Erie took a two-goal lead into the second period.

It would take Abbotsford more than half the game to beat Monsters goalie John Grahame, but Mitch Wahl posted his first of the season at the 12:21 mark of the second. When Colin Stuart’s rebound was kicked out by Grahame, Wahl, in one motion, pushed it through the fivehole of Grahame from the left faceoff circle to cut the Monsters lead to one. The final seven minutes and change of the second period would go by without score and Lake Erie would go into the final 20 minutes of regulation up a goal.

Adding to the lead, Fahey picked up his 11th goal of the season at the 6:38 mark of the third, putting the Monsters back up by two. Taking the puck into the Abbotsford zone, Fahey wired a wrist shot that blew past Shantz’s blocker, hitting its target area, just inside the post and into the back of the net. Ray Macias and Darren Haydar picked up the assists on the score.

It would be more than 10 minutes, but the Heat would battle back and cut the Monsters lead to one with two minutes left in regulation, at the 17:50 mark of the third. David Van der Gulik’s 16th of the season, assisted by Keith Seabrook and Staffan Kronwall, made for an interesting final two minutes of regulation in the Monsters season.

With under two minutes left, at the third period’s 18:17 mark, the Heat tied the game on Cam Cunning’s 19th of the season, a goal that was assisted by Wahl and John Lammers and sent the game into overtime.

In the five-minute sudden-death session, Lake Erie put four shots on net to Abbotsford’s one, but neither team would score, and the game would go to a shootout.

The first two shooters– Lake Erie’s T.J. Hensick and Abbotsford’s Tyler Spurgeon – were denied by Shantz and Grahame, respectively.

After Olver was denied, Stuart came in on Grahame, deked to the forehand, and pushed a wrist shot past the blocker of Monsters netminder.

Lake Erie’s third shooter, Kevin Shattenkirk, tied the shootout, putting a backhand deke past the blocker of Shantz.

After Shattenkirk, Lammers was denied by Grahame, and the shootout came down to two shooters. But the five-man shootout would head into an extra shooter after Lake Erie’s Macias and Colby Cohen and Abbotsford’s Van der Gulik and Garth Murray were all stalled.
The Monsters sixth shooter, rookie Dustin Sylvester, saw the puck roll wide when he lost the disc on the backhand attempt, setting the stage for Kronwall. Coming in on Grahame, Kronwall pushed a wrist shot past Grahame, giving Abbotsford the win.

“We fed off our crowd and we had great fan support all year long,” said Monsters head coach David Quinn. “We have one of the best crowds in all of the American Hockey League. It was a lot of fun to play at home. Hopefully next year we can make the playoffs and give our fans a lot more reason to cheer and I think we will. I really like our future.”

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