First Line Plus Sertich Deliver OT Win

Pellerins Photography
Monday night Marty Sertich's power play goal with just a minute left in overtime gave the visiting Lake Erie Monsters a 3-2 win in Hamilton. But while it was Sertich that sealed the win, it was the line combination of Ryan Stoa, T.J. Hensick and Brian Willsie that put Sertich and the team in the position to do so. Stoa recorded both Lake Erie goals in regulation and Hensick and Willsie posted three and two assists, respectively, on the night. Tyler Weiman was the winning goalie, recording 27 saves on 29 shots. The Monsters have won 10 of their last 14 games and are 18-19-0-4 so far this season.

Hamilton entered the night in first place in the North Division, 19 points ahead of Lake Erie. The Bulldogs showed why they are at the top of the standings in the opening period, scoring twice on power plays in the first. It only took 3:28 into the game for Hamilton to strike, when Mikael Johansson scored on the man advantage. Andre Benoit and Shawn Belle picked up the assists.

Brock Trotter's power play score at the 11:23 gave the Bulldogs an early 2-0 lead. Ben Maxwell and David Desharnais recorded the helpers.

The trio of Stoa, Hensick and Willsie made their first mark on the game less than five minutes into the second period. The rookie Stoa scored at the 4:57 point on a power play, assisted by veterans Willsie and Hensick and bringing the Monsters to within one.

The score would remain stuck at 2-1 for more than a full period, as it would not be until midway through the third frame that either team would find the back of the net. Stoa did it again for Lake Erie, this time at even strength. His goal at 9:23 of the third period knotted the score at 2-2 and was assisted by Hensick and Wes O'Neill.

Stoa leads the Monsters in goals now with 17, which also ranks him first among all AHL rookies. His eight power play markers is also tops in the league among first-year players. Monday's performance was Stoa's third multi-goal and fifth multi-point game of the year.

With his assist Monday night, O'Neill has posted a point in four of the last five games for the Monsters (1G, 4A).

The teams held each other at bay for the remainder of the third, sending the contest into overtime.

It would look as if the game was destined for a shootout, as the fourth and final minute of the sudden death extra session was about to strike. But Sertich struck first, potting his third game-winning goal of the season, and second in as many games. The goal at 3:58 in overtime was again assisted by Hensick and Willsie and gave Lake Erie the 3-2 win. The Monsters are now 2-0 in OT this season.

Hensick has recorded four three-assist games and nine multi-point games overall so far this year. In 21 games with Lake Erie, Hensick has posted at least a point in all but five of them. With a pair of helpers in the win, Willsie notched his sixth multi-point game.

The Monsters are in the midst of a six-game, nine-day road trip and play the Bulldogs three times during the swing. Wednesday will be game four of the trip and the third meeting with Hamilton. Lake Erie will return home to Quicken Loans Arena on January 22nd to host the Texas Stars.

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