Second Place and Home Ice Clinched

On a Fan Appreciation Night that welcomed 12,866 to Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday, the Lake Erie Monsters claimed a 3-0 victory over the Abbotsford Heat to conclude their regular season home schedule. Lake Erie’s win, coupled with Hamilton’s win over Manitoba, solidifies a second-place finish in the North Division for the Monsters, as well as home ice advantage to start the 2011 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs.

Manitoba is now locked in at third, and will therefore face Lake Erie in the First Round. Exact dates and time of the First Round games will be announced following the conclusion of the regular season on Sunday night. The win improves the playoff-bound Monsters to 43-28-3-5 overall and 24-11-2-3 on home ice, both of which set single-season franchise records.

Lake Erie jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Matt Ford scored just 8:21 into the contest. After taking a pass from Steve Oleksy, Ford quickly released a slap shot from the right point that found its way through traffic and into the net. Oleksy’s helper came as his second in as many outings, while Julian Talbot also assisted for his third point (1G, 2A) in his last three games.

The Monsters carried their one-goal lead and an 11-9 shot advantage into the first intermission.

In the middle frame, Ford quickly netted his second goal of the night when he deflected Joel Chouinard’s shot into the net at the 1:08 mark. Ford’s team-leading 25th goal of the season marked his fourth point (3G, 1A) in his last three outings and fourth multi-goal game of the season, while Matt Generous also assisted for his second helper in as many games.

Before the period expired, the Monsters made the score 3-0 with a power play tally at the 18:51 mark. From the right circle, David van der Gulik attempted a cross-ice pass that ricocheted off an Abbotsford defenseman and into the cage. Ben Walter assisted to push his point streak to five games (2G, 4A), while Julian Brouillette also assisted.

Lake Erie ended the second period with seven shots compared to six by Abbotsford.

Despite Abbotsford outshooting Lake Erie 11-5, neither team scored in the third period, as the Monsters held on for a 3-0 final.

Ford’s eventual game-winner that was scored in the first period marked his sixth decisive tally of the season. With eight game-winners in a Lake Erie uniform, Ford ranks first among all-time franchise leaders.

Jason Bacashihua, playing in his 100th game as a Monster, stopped all 26 shots faced, marking his second shutout in his last three starts and fourth of the season.

At the other end, Leland Irving went 20-for-23 in goal for the Heat.

The Monsters will conclude their regular season on Sunday with a 5:05 p.m. game in Rochester.

Three Stars: 1. LE Ford (2 goals); 2. LE Bacashihua (26 saves); 3. LE van der Gulik (1 goal)

David Quinn Postgame Interview
Matt Ford Postgame Interview


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