Monsters Close Season Series with Griffins

The season series with the Grand Rapids Griffins concludes tonight for the Lake Erie Monsters (27-24-2-2), who are coming off a 4-3 win and a two-game season sweep of the Hershey Bears at Quicken Loans Arena. Cedrick Desjardins was back in net for the Monsters for the first time since an overtime win over the Griffins on December 28th, and stopped 27 of 30 shots for the win. Tonight is chapter two in this weekend’s three-games-in-three-nights-in-three-cities tour.

Four different goal scorers contributed last night as the Monsters topped Hershey. After trailing 1-0 after one period, Patrick Rissmiller netted his ninth of the season to tie the game at 1-1 for the Monsters, who would never trail again. Patrick Bordeleau and Zach Cohen added goals in the second period, and Peter MacArthur scored his second power play goal in as many games to help secure the victory for the Monsters. Cameron Gaunce and Brad Malone each registered assists in the game, giving each player helpers in three consecutive contests. Rissmiller has the hot hand as of late, with five goals over his last seven games; three of which were game-winning goals.

The Monsters power play is a big factor in the team’s 7-2-0-1 record since the all-star break. With the man-advantage, the Monsters have netted nine power play goals over their last nine games; they have a 9-for-40 success rate over that span. The Grand Rapids penalty kill can be beaten, as it ranks in the middle of the pack at 16th (82.3%) in the 30-team American Hockey League. Evan Brophey leads the Monsters power play this season with seven of his team-best 14 goals coming on the man-advantage.

Shutting down a group of forwards will be key for the Monsters against Grand Rapids tonight. This season, Griffins forward Gustav Nyquist has 50 points in 47 games; having almost a point per game, four points in five games, against the Monsters. Brent Raedeke, on the other hand, has just 13 points in 45 games. However, he has five points in five games against the Monsters. Veteran Griffins forward Jamie Johnson is second on the Griffins in points, but averages over a point per game against the Monsters (Five goals and seven points in five games) compared to 41 points in 51 games overall.

Ty Conklin, a veteran NHL backup goalie, cleared waivers earlier this week and will likely be the go-to goalie for Grand Rapids moving forward. Joey MacDonald filled in admirably for the parent-club Detroit Red Wings, and won the backup position in Detroit.

The Monsters and Griffins will get things started from Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids at 7:00 PM, and fans can listen live on ESPN 850 WKNR. Saturday night, the Monsters will visit Rochester, with the action beginning at 7:35 on AM 1220 WHKW.

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