Monsters fall to Grand Rapids

After seeing a third period lead disappear, the Lake Erie Monsters (9-6-1-0) came back to force overtime before falling by a 6-5 score to the Midwest Division-leading Grand Rapids Griffins before 9,044 fans at Quicken Loans Arena Friday night. 

It was Lake Erie's first game at home since October 27 th, following a season-long seven-game road swing. 

With the overtime loss, the Monsters do earn one point in the standings, snapping a string of back-to-back games in which the Monsters did not register a point.  David van der Gulik registered three points for the Monsters, including two goals.  Rookie forward Mitchell Heard- the first draft choice of the Colorado Avalanche in June's draft- registered his first professional goal in the overtime loss. 

Grand Rapids has now won six consecutive games.

van der Gulik scored his first of the season on the power play at 10:11 of the first period when he redirected a Karl Stollery point shot from the front of the net.  Andrew Agozzino also assisted on the Monsters first goal of the evening.

Agozzino made it a two-goal Monsters lead at 4:02 of the second period when he raced up the right wing and sent a wrist shot short side on Griffins goalie Petr Mrazek, with assists to van der Gulik and Tyson Barrie.  Agozzino's goal was his seventh of the season.

Heard capitalized on a Griffins defensive zone turnover at 10:29 of the second period, intercepting a pass in the slot, moving the puck to his forehand, and quickly snapping a puck into the upper part of the net for his first professional goal to give the Monsters a 3-0 lead. 

In less than two minutes, Grand Rapids scored two unanswered goals to pull to within one, as Max Nicastro and Triston Grant managed to beat Monsters goalie Calvin Pickard. 

However, van der Gulik regained a two goal lead for the Monsters after Agozzino won a faceoff straight back, and van der Gulik quickly fired a wrist shot upstairs on Mrazek to make the score 4-2 at the 14:03 mark of the second period. 

With just over four minutes to go in the second, Gustav Nyquist scored a power play goal to pull the Griffins back to within a goal, making the score 4-3 at the end of the middle frame.

Early in the third, Tomas Jurco scored twice for Grand Rapids in a span of nine seconds, pulling the Griffins into their first lead of the game between the 6:21 and 6:30 marks. 

With just over a minute remaining, Barrie streaked up the left wing for the Monsters, taking the puck from end to end, and sent a pass to Bryan Lerg in front of the net.  Without hesitation, Lerg fired the puck through the legs of Mrazek to tie the game for the Monsters at 5-5 and force overtime.  Lerg's goal was his team-leading eighth of the season.

In overtime, with the Monsters on the penalty kill, Nyquist scored his second power play goal of the game to seal the victory for Grand Rapids, making the score 6-5.

Pickard (5-4-0) stopped 22 of 28 shots for the Monsters.  Mrazek stopped 29 of 34, and is 5-0-0 in net for Grand Rapids.

The Monsters are off until Friday night when they host the Rockford IceHogs at 7:30 PM at Quicken Loans Arena.

NOTES: The Monsters were 1-3 on the power play, and are now 6-3-0-0 when they score a power play goal after the loss… The Monsters were 3-5 on the penalty kill, and are now 0-3-0-0 when they allow their opponent to score two or more power play goals… With three points, van der Gulik ties the Monsters season-high, which two Monsters have achieved previously this season… The Monsters current stretch is their  longest winless drought this season… Friday's game marks the first time this season that the Monsters have played beyond regulation time and failed to register the second point, and it also marks the first time this season that the Monsters played beyond regulation and had a game decided in the overtime period; the four previous occasions were decided in shootouts, in which the Monsters are 4-0… The Monsters are now 2-3-0-0 at home.

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