LEM Mid-Year Review

 

A 3-1 victory over the Texas Stars on January 8th marked the midway point of Lake Erie’s 80-game schedule.

The midpoint calls for a reflection on this season’s accomplishments, as well as an opportunity to look forward to the 2011 Calder Cup playoff race.

The season began with a storybook home opener at Quicken Loans Arena on October 8, 2010, in front of 12,524 anxious fans. Lake Erie hosted the Syracuse Crunch, and as teams from two of the AHL’s six charter cities, both donned throwback sweaters to honor the league’s 75th anniversary.

In a fast-paced, hard-fought battle, Lake Erie displayed the team its fans anticipated: one with fast, highly-skilled forwards, backed by a young defensive core and veteran goaltending.

The “Barons” climbed out of a two-goal deficit and posted a 3-2 win off Matt Ford’s game-winning tally in the latter phases of a hard-hitting third period.

The win not only previewed a determined hockey team, but an exemplary group of young men.

Fans in the greater Cleveland area have had ample opportunity to bond with these players on a personal level, as the team has reached out to the community in many ways this season.

Among the team’s most popular community event in the early going has been Tour with the Monsters, an outing that offers fans a chance to get to know their favorite players in a relaxed setting, while posing for pictures and receiving autographs. The tour has already made stops in Elyria, Mentor and Wooster. Presented by Time Warner Cable and Zeppe's Pizza, the tour will visit Shaker in early February for its fourth and final stop of the season.

Another fan favorite has been the Monsters Respect Tour, which has traveled to multiple elementary schools in the area. The Respect Tour features several Lake Erie players in a school setting, giving young students advice on leadership, goal setting and developing trustful relationships with peers. The players take time to explain how they’ve achieved their goals of playing professional hockey and how they strive to make it to the NHL. The Respect Tour has five more dates slated for this season.

At Halloween, the team hosted a party at the Merrick House in downtown Cleveland. Players helped dozens of kids paint pumpkins, pass out candy and enjoy their favorite Halloween arts and crafts.

Just prior to Thanksgiving the team hosted a gathering at St. Martin De Porres Family Center, donating over 150 turkeys to less fortunate families.

Along with the home opener, community events and two home wins over the North Division-leading Hamilton Bulldogs, Lake Erie’s season has been highlighted by a multi-year extension to its affiliation with the Colorado Avalanche. The Monsters have served as Colorado’s primary affiliate since the inception of the Lake Erie Monsters in 2007.

Eight players have been recalled by the parent club this season, including Kevin Shattenkirk, a rookie defenseman who was recently selected to participate in this season's NHL All-Star festivities.

Through the first 42 games of the organization’s fourth season, milestones have been reached at individual, community and franchise levels.

On a larger scale, Lake Erie’s 16-19-3-4 record at midseason is equivalent to the deficit they found themselves in opening night. The team we saw persevere on October 8, made up of accomplished athletes and genuine individuals, has unprecedented capability of rallying to mark the franchise’s next milestone: its first trip to the Calder Cup Playoffs.


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