By Sarah Jamieson, Special to WFNY
Despite leading after the first period, the Lake Erie Monsters (0-1-0-0) fell 5-2 to the Abbotsford Heat (1-0-0-0) before 12,123 fans at Quicken Loans Arena Friday night, due in part to giving up three goals in the second period. The game marked the season opener for both teams. Monsters captain Bryan Lerg, whose season was cut short after only 29 games due to injury last season, netted the first goal of the hockey game. Forward Brad Malone also scored for the Monsters.
With the Monsters on the power play, Stefan Elliott carried a puck into the offensive end, and despite being pressured, was able to get a shot on net. The attempt was denied by Abbotsford goalie Reto Berra, but Lerg picked up the rebound in the left circle and sent the puck into the net for his first goal of the season at the 7:47 mark of the first period. Elliott and goalie Sami Aittokallio assisted on the goal.
Abbotsford netted three second-period goals to take a 3-1 lead into the second intermission. Chad Billins put the Heat on the board with a shot from the point on the power play at 6:54 of the second period, tying the game at 1-1. Less than two minutes later, Drew MacKenzie snapped a wrist shot from the right circle top-shelf to give Abbotsford its first lead, 2-1. Ben Hankowski was the beneficiary of a series of tic-tac-toe passes for the Heat, as he netted a power play goal at 13:06 of the second period to give Abbotsford a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Malone picked up a rebound off of an offensive rush and scored from the side of the goal just 58 seconds into the third period, pulling the Monsters to within a goal. The goal was the first of the season for Malone, and was assisted by Mark Olver and Markus Lauridsen.
At the 14:15 mark of the third period, Josh Jooris snapped a puck from the high slot that beat Aittokallio high to his stick side, restoring a two-goal lead for Abbotsford. Hankowski added an empty netter for the Heat with just over a minute remaining, stretching the score to 5-2 in favor of Abbotsford.
The Monsters pressured the Heat during stretches of the third period, and outshot the Heat 33-25 in the game.
Aittokallio stopped 20 of 24 shots and is 0-1-0 on the season. Berra stopped 31 of 33 Monsters shots and is 1-0-0 in net for the Heat.
The two teams meet again on Saturday at 6:00 PM at Quicken Loans Arena.
NOTES: Aittokallio started his second straight opening night for the Monsters in goal… Malone and Elliott led the Monsters in shots on goal; each had four on the night… Vincent Arseneau posted 14 penalty minutes in the game for the Monsters… Forwards Garrett Meurs and Colin Smith, as well as defenseman Lee Moffie, made their professional hockey debuts in Friday night’s loss.
Image via Lake Erie Monsters