Grand Rapids Slips Past Monsters on Saturday

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It took all of regulation, an overtime period and 10 shooters in the shootout before the Grand Rapids Griffins squeaked out a 4-3 win over the Lake Erie Monsters Saturday afternoon at Quicken Loans Arena.

Captain Brian Willsie kept his point and goal scoring streak alive at four games, tallying the Monsters first shorthanded goal of the season. Breaking in all alone on Griffins goalie Jimmy Howard, Willsie used superb hand-eye coordination to bat his own rebound out of the air past the glove of Howard, giving the Monsters a 1-0 lead at the 4:33 mark in the second period. Willsie has now scored a goal in all four Lake Erie games and has added two assists.

With just more than five minutes left in the second and the Monsters on the power play, Marty Sertich would find Chris Stewart just beyond the far post of Howard. From behind the goal line, Sertich would put a pass right on the tape of Stewart, who would wire a one-timer over the blocker of Howard, putting the Monsters up, 2-0. Defenseman Derek Peltier would be credited with the secondary assist on the goal.

The Griffins wouldn’t stay off the scoreboard much longer, as Justin Abdelkader slid a wrist shot behind Monsters goalie Jason Bacashihua less than three minutes after the Monsters took their two-goal lead.

Up by one going into the third, the Monsters would waste no time adding to it with another power play goal as T.J. Hensick scored 50 seconds into the final frame of regulation. Skating down the left side, Stewart put a pass right on the stick of a streaking Hensick, who one-touched the puck in between the pad of Howard and the post to give the Monsters a comfortable two- goal lead.

But the Griffins would respond just more than two minutes later on the power play, to cut the lead in half when Landon Wilson banged home a rebound past Bacashihua. Consistently knocking on the door, Grand Rapids would finally cash in four minutes later when Darren Haydar knocked home a Jonathan Ericsson rebound through the five-hole of Bacashihua.

Before reaching the overtime period, Bacashihua would keep the game tied, fighting off a wrist shot from Haydar in prime scoring position with two minutes left. Numerous times, the Griffins would have rebound opportunities in tight, but each time Bacashihua would slam the door shut.

In overtime the Monsters would get a power play, but would fail to convert, only being able to muster one shot on Howard. Grand Rapids wouldn’t even register a shot in the extra period and only watch as the Monsters controlled most of the play.

The shootout featured two extremely hot goaltenders, as Bacashihua and Howard stopped 64 shots through regulation and overtime. The Monsters got off to a quick start, as the first shooter, Chris Stewart, would find the back of the net with a wrist shot that was placed perfectly under the blocker of Howard.

Bacashihua would come up big, stopping the first three Grand Rapids shooters. But the Monsters shooters would fail to convert on Howard on the next four attempts. Brian Willsie would clank the iron, almost sneaking the puck past the blocker of Howard.

The Griffins wouldn’t solve Bacashihua until their fourth shooter, Landon Wilson, sneaked a backhander over the blocker side of the Monsters goalie. With the chance to win the game on his stick, Cory Emmerton would fire a bullet that would miss Bacashihua’s glove by mere inches and find the top corner of the net.

At the end of the game, Joe Sacco was pleased with the character of his team and their ability to fight fatigue from playing less than 24 hours between games.

“Overall I thought it was a gritty point for us,” said Sacco. “That team was waiting for us, they were fresh. We just played last night, and to come out with a point and almost get two, there’s something to be said for that. The guys really worked hard there.”

The Monsters will wrap up their five- game home stand Wednesday when they take on the Milwaukee Admirals at 7:30 p.m. After Wednesday, the team will embark on a six game road trip and won’t play at home again until Sunday, November 9th when they host the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Sights and Sounds
Brian Willsie Interview
Coach Joe Sacco Interview
Quote, Unquote

“We talked about the start again and we talked about trying to create some energy to start the game.  We’ve got to find a way to weather the storm and get our legs under us and once we did that we started to play our game.” - Head Coach Joe Sacco


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