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The victory improved Lake Erie to 24-21-3-4 overall and 14-7-2-2 on home ice, while it also moved the Monsters into sole possession of third place in the North Division.
Lake Erie struck first with a power play goal by Patrick Rissmiller at 16:21 of the opening period. Matt Ford assisted and Julien Brouillette picked up his second helper in his last three games. Rissmiller’s 12 power play points (5G, 7A) lead Lake Erie this season.
At the end of the first period, the Monsters had a 1-0 lead, after outshooting the Bulldogs by a 14-2 count in the stanza. Two shots by Hamilton ties a season low for shots against Lake Erie in a single period.
In the middle frame, the Bulldogs tied the game at a goal apiece when Aaron Palushaj picked up a loose puck behind the net and scored on at wraparound at the 18:56 mark. Palushaj took assists from Ben Maxwell and Brett Festerling.
The Monsters outshot the Bulldogs by an 11-8 count in the second period.
Just 1:17 into the third, Mark Olver snapped the deadlock with his team-leading 20th goal of the season. After Justin Mercier’s shot from the hash mark bounced off a Hamilton defenseman, Olver knocked in a fluttering puck from the left side of the net for his third goal in as many outings. Olver has totaled 10 points (9G, 1A) in his last 10 games. Jonas Holos also assisted for his second helper in three games.
The Monsters built a 3-1 lead with their second power play goal of the game at 9:56. From the right side of the goal, Ben Walter lifted a shot into the far side of the net for his 16th goal and team-leading 37th point of the season. Julian Talbot assisted for his third helper in as many games, while Joel Chouinard also assisted for his second in as many outings.
With just 56 seconds remaining in regulation, Rissmiller scored an empty-net tally, marking his fifth multi-point game of the season. Mercier assisted for his third multi-point and second two-assist game of the campaign. Mercier has totaled three points (1G, 2A) in his last two outings.
Rissmiller’s goal finalized a 4-1 win for the Monsters.
John Grahame, who has started nine of Lake Erie’s last 10 contests and posted eight wins during that time, stopped 18 of 19 shots faced. Grahame has posted a 10-3-0 record in his last 13 games, while he holds a 13-8-2 record on the season.
Cory Sanford went 34-for-37 in net for Hamilton.
After the AHL All-Star break, the Monsters will continue a stretch of playing 12 of 13 home games when they host the San Antonio Rampage on Friday, February 4th, at 7:30 p.m. Friday’s tilt begins a three-in-three home weekend for the Monsters.
Three Stars: 1. LE Rissmiller (2 goals); 1. LE Olver (GW goal); 2. LE Grahame (18 saves)
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