Monsters Take 3-1 Advantage

After trading wins with Manitoba through the first three games of the North Division Semi-Finals of the 2011 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs, the Lake Erie Monsters posted a 6-3 win over the Moose on Thursday night to take a 3-1 series lead. Part of the two-game advantage can be attributed to Lake Erie’s successful special teams against Manitoba. The Monsters have held the Moose scoreless (0-19) on the power play through four Playoff games, after also going 0-20 in four regular season games. Lake Erie scored three of its goals on the power play on Thursday, plus a shorthander.

Lake Erie will have a chance to finish the series in Game 5, which will be played at the MTS Centre at 8:30 p.m. (ET) on Friday night.

The Monsters took a 2-0 lead off a pair of power play goals in the first period. At 13:12, Ben Walter scored off assists from Justin Mercier and David van der Gulik. Van der Gulik’s assist marked his fourth point (2G, 2A) in his last three games. Just 3:17 later, Luke Walker scored his first of the Playoffs on a breakaway off helpers from Mark Olver and Stefan Elliot. For Elliot, who just signed with the Monsters on April 16th, it was his first point as a professional.

After an opening period in which both teams recorded 16 shots, the Monsters carried a 2-0 lead.

Just 3:08 into the middle frame, the Moose cut their deficit in half and made the score 2-1 off a tally by Kevin Clark. Bill Sweatt and Nolan Baumgartner assisted.

At the 7:56 mark, the Monsters regained their two-goal lead when Mercier netted a power play goal to make the score 3-1. Walter, who has recorded at least a point in each game of this series, assisted to mark his fifth point (3G, 2A) of the Playoffs. Shawn Belle also assisted.

Just 1:04 later, with Matt Ford serving a minor penalty for slashing, Mercier shot down the middle of the ice on a breakaway and scored his second shorthanded goal of the Playoffs to put Lake Erie ahead by a 4-1 count.

Mercier’s goal chased former Monster Tyler Weiman from the Manitoba cage, making way for rookie Eddie Lack, who started Game 1 before getting replaced by Weiman mid-game.

Before the second period expired, the Moose climbed to within two of Lake Erie, as Jason Jaffray scored at the 17:45 mark. Sergei Shirokov and Marco Rosa assisted.

The Monsters recorded seven shots compared to 13 by Manitoba in the second period, but led by a 4-2 score after 40 minutes.

In the third period, the Moose made the score 4-3 when Clark scored at 13:56 to mark his second goal of the game. Jaffray and Rosa recorded assists.

With an empty Manitoba net, at 19:27 of the period, Matt Ford put the Monsters up 5-3 with a goal that was assisted by Julian Talbot and Julien Brouillette. Ford raced to beat out a Moose defender for the puck behind the goal and wrapped around to put it in the empty net.

Then, with just 10 seconds remaining in regulation, Olver scored an empty-net goal off an assist from goaltender John Grahame to finalize a 6-3 game.

Grahame turned aside 33 of 36 shots faced in his third consecutive start for the Monsters. Weiman went 16-for-20 in goal for the Moose, while Lack posted eight saves on 10 shots in relief.

Three Stars: 1. LE Walter (1 goal, 1 assist); 2. MTB Clark (2 goals); 3. LE Mercier (2 goals, 1 assist)


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