By Sarah Jamieson, Special to WFNY
The Lake Erie Monsters (4-5-0-0) came within a goal with 45 seconds left in regulation, but the Grand Rapids Griffins (6-2-1-1) held off the comeback attempt, as the Monsters fell to the Griffins 6-4 Friday night in Quicken Loans Arena. Forward Bryan Lerg scored and picked up an assist for the Monsters, while center Paul Carey registered a pair of assists against the defending Calder Cup Champion Griffins. Karl Stollery, Mark Olver, and David van der Gulik – who was making his season debut for the Monsters – also collected goals in the loss.
Stollery’s goal opened the scoring for the night, as Colin Smith carried the puck up the right wing and spotted Stollery open, giving Stollery a clear shooting lane from the left circle at 16:44 of the first period. Lerg also assisted on the goal, which was Stollery’s second of the season.
Grand Rapids countered with a pair of goals in the final 1:31 of the period, as 20-year-old defenceman Ryan Sproul and center Calle Jarnkrok each managed to beat Monsters goalie Calvin Pickard. Jarnkrok’s power play goal with 1.8 seconds left in the gave the Griffins a 2-1 lead after one period.
Tomas Jurco stretched Grand Rapids lead to 3-1 with the only goal of the second period at the11:19 mark of the frame.
Jurco scored again for Grand Rapids at 8:57 of the third period, extending Grand Rapids lead to 4-1, before the Monsters mounted their comeback attempt. van der Gulik took a pass in front of the net from Matt Hunwick at12:10 of the third and spun around to his backhand, before beating Griffins goalie Tom McCollum glove-side to make the score 4-2. The goal was the first for van der Gulik, and was assisted by Hunwick and Carey.
With 1:36 remaining, Olver intercepted a failed Grand Rapids clearing attempt and immediately fired a slapshot top-shelf to beat McCollum, leaving the score 4-3. Carey was credited with an assist on Olver’s third goal of the season. Only 18 seconds later, however, Luke Glendening scored an empty-net goal, giving Grand Rapids a 5-3 lead.
The Monsters answered once again, as Lerg scored his team-leading sixth goal at 19:15 of the third period, with an assist to Smith. Smith found Lerg open in front of the net, and Lerg quickly fired a high shot to beat McCollum, pulling the Monsters to within 5-4. Jeff Hoggan, though, scored another empty-netter for the Griffins with 19 seconds left, giving Grand Rapids the 6-4 lead with the game’s final goal.
Pickard is 2-3-0 after stopping 25 of 29 shots in the loss. Tom McCollum is 4-0-0 after stopping 21 of 25 shots in net for the Griffins.
The Monsters are back on the ice Thursday and Friday when they host Utica at The Q for the first matchups all-time between the two clubs. Thursday’s game starts at 7:00 PM, while Friday’s game is at 7:30 PM.
NOTES: van der Gulik’s goal gives him 100 points in a Monsters uniform; the third highest total in team history… The Monsters are 21-20-2-4 all-time against Grand Rapids, and are now 0-1-0-0 against the Griffins this season… The Monsters are 1-2-0-0 against the Midwest Division this season, and are now 3-3-0-0 on home ice… Lerg’s two-point game gives him nine points on the season, which is good for the Monsters team lead; through nine games, Lerg has a point-per-game average… The Monsters were 1-7 on the power play, and now have 10 power play goals through nine games… The Monsters were 8-10 on the penalty kill in the loss to Grand Rapids.
(Photo by John Saraya/Lake Erie Monsters)