Monsters Set for Two in Charlotte

The Lake Erie Monsters are back to .500 after Friday’s 4-1 win in Rockford, and are carrying a record of 6-1-0-1 over their last eight games into their two-game set in Charlotte that begins tonight. The Monsters and Checkers have never met in the regular season, but did meet in the 2011 preseason for two games that were both won by the Checkers.

Trevor Cann has started three straight games for the Monsters, winning two of them in net. His 34 saves on 35 shots Friday night in Rockford were a season-best. Offensively, Hugh Jessiman and Ryan Stoa are putting points on the board at an increased rate. Jessiman is on fire in the goal column, registering five goals over his last six games, including the eventual game-winner Friday night against Rockford. Stoa scored twice on Friday night, giving the power forward six points (2G, 4A) in his last four games. Greg Mauldin is also carrying a three-game point streak into this two-game set against the Checkers.

The power play struck again Friday night, giving the Monsters at least one power play goal in six of their last seven contests. The only game in which they did not tally a power play goal was Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss to the Houston Aeros. Furthermore, the power play has progressed steadily since earlier this season. With the man-advantage, the Monsters ended October converting at an 11.7% clip; the 27th-ranked power play unit in the AHL. The power play has increased its effectiveness by over four-percent to 15.8%. Penalty killing has been greatly improved as well as it enters Sunday’s action ranked 11th in the AHL at 82.5%; an improvement from being ranked 20th in the league with a 78.8% success rate at the end of the season’s first month.

Stoa is the Monsters player to watch in the games against Charlotte. He has the ability to score in bunches, and after contributing across the board over the last couple weeks, it can be noticed that he’s picking up steam. The importance of his offensive contributions are noticeable as well: when Stoa earns a point, the Monsters are 6-1-0-0.

Keep an eye on forward Jon Matsumoto for the Charlotte Checkers. A veteran, Matsumoto is responsible for a great deal of the offense (21 points in 23 games) for a Midwest Division-leading Checkers squad that is coming off a 4-2 loss at home to the Texas Stars Saturday night.

An interesting sub-plot will be seeing if having Saturday night off between games benefits the Monsters, who are set to take on a Checkers team that will play three games in three days by the conclusion of Monday night.

The Monsters and Checkers can be heard Sunday evening with coverage beginning at 4:50 PM on AM 1220 WHKW. Monday evening’s action, live from Charlotte, can be heard beginning at 7:00 PM on ESPN 850 WKNR.

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