Here Come the Rivermen

The Lake Erie Monsters (6-9-1-0) take to the ice tonight to start a two-game set with the Peoria Rivermen (8-6-1-1). All-time, the Monsters are 6-10-0-2 against Peoria. The teams will do battle tonight and Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena. The Monsters are winners of back-to-back games, and the Rivermen have taken their last three contests.

Much like the Monsters, who began the campaign with a mark of 0-5-1-0, the Rivermen failed to register a win in their first four contests. However, the Rivermen enter this evening in second place in the Midwest Division, just a point behind division-leading Charlotte. The Monsters sit in fourth in the North Division, six points back of division-leading Rochester.

As the wins start to increase, the key for the Monsters is production from the veteran offensive leaders. David van der Gulik leads the team with five multi-point games, including four over his last five games played. He is coming off a two-assist effort against San Antonio last Friday, and he leads the team with 13 points in 11 games. Furthermore, when van der Gulik has a multi-point game, the Monsters are 4-1-0-0. When van der Gulik’s linemate Evan Brophey scores, the Monsters are 3-0-0-0; Brophey had a hat trick last time out against San Antonio. The Monsters also have three wins in four games when Ryan Stoa tallies a point.

Scoring hasn’t been an issue for the Rivermen, however. Their 55 goals scored as a team this season paces the Western Conference, and is good enough for third in the American Hockey League. Conversely, they do surrender almost as many as they score. Their 49 goals allowed is also a conference-high, and a total that has the Rivermen in fourth in the entire AHL.

Leading the offense for Peoria entering Thursday night’s game is T.J. Hensick, the former Monster who currently has 21 points on the season. Peoria winger Brett Sterling is the owner of a 55-goal season in the AHL (2006-07), and winger Jonathan Cheechoo has a Rocket Richard trophy to his credit. Cheechoo led the National Hockey League in goals with 56 for San Jose in 2005-06. Needless to say, Cedrick Desjardins will need to continue his hot play in net for the Monsters against a high-octane offensive team.

Thursday’s game at The Q will begin at 7:00 PM, and can be heard live on ESPN 850 WKNR. Saturday’s action begins at 7:30 PM, and fans can listen live on AM 1220 WHKW.

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