Trip Starts with Big North Division Win

Photos courtesy of Pellerins Photography
The Lake Erie Monsters started a five-game road trip on Friday in fourth place (72 points) in the North Division, facing a Hamilton Bulldogs team that sat tied with Toronto in second place with 75 points. Behind three points from Cameron Gaunce (1g, 2a), playing his first game with Lake Erie since February 6th because of recall to Colorado, the Monsters easily defeated the Bulldogs, 4-2.

Now with a 33-25-3-5 record, Lake Erie is still in fourth place with 74 points, but combined with a Toronto win on Friday night, Hamilton drops down to third and only one point ahead of the Monsters. Lake Erie is now 5-2 against the Bulldogs this season with one game remaining in the season series (April 1st at Lake Erie).

Gaunce began the scoring for the visiting Monsters, lighting the lamp just 3:18 into the first period off an assist from Mark Olver.

Julian Talbot added to the Lake Erie lead with a power play marker at 13:07 of the first. Gaunce and goaltender John Grahame assisted, marking the first time a Monsters netminder recorded an assist since February 6th, 2010 (Billy Sauer).

The Bulldogs responded at 16:09 with a J.T. Wyman shorthanded goal. Dany Masse assisted, cutting the Lake Erie advantage to 2-1 before the end of the first period.

The Monsters recorded 12 shots to just four for the Bulldogs in the opening frame.

It would be late into the second period before the score would change again, doing so on a David van der Gulik goal at the 16:05 mark. Gaunce again assisted, as did Steve Oleksy. With a goal and two assists on the night, Gaunce recorded his first multi-point performance of the season. Oleksy has now recorded assists in back-to-back games, having played in just three games for the Monsters.

The middle session would end with the Monsters ahead 3-1, after outshooting Hamilton 22-9 through 40 minutes.

Greg Mauldin scored the fourth and final goal of the Lake Erie night, converting on the power play at 2:01 of the third period. Ben Walter and Shawn Belle assisted. The helper was Belle's first as a Monster, playing in just his third game with Lake Erie after being acquired from Oklahoma City.

Hunter Bishop would put the Bulldogs on the board once more before the end of the game, scoring with 34 seconds remaining. Kyle Klubertanz and Wymen assisted, resulting in the final 4-2 Lake Erie win.

Grahame recorded 19 saves on 21 shots in goal for the Monsters. Across the ice, Hamilton goaltender Drew MacIntyre had 25 saves on 29 shots.

The Monsters will travel to Toronto on Saturday for another North Division showdown, playing the Marlies at 3:00 p.m.

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