The Lake Erie Monsters (1-2-0-0) took to home ice at Quicken Loans Arena Tuesday evening, facing an undefeated first place San Antonio Rampage (3-0-1-0). After winning their first game on the road, Lake Erie hoped to zero in on a home ice win. San Antonio had other ideas, beating the Monsters 4-1. Really this one was in the books as an “L” after twenty minutes.
The first period was a wash for fifteen minutes; the Monsters squandering a five-on-three on a classic case of too much finesse, not enough shooting. Honestly, not enough shooting was an understatement. The Monsters squeezed of exactly zero shots during that minute of two men up. As San Antonio returned to full strength, the wheels came off for the Monsters. Lake Erie’s Cody Burki went to the box on a charging call at 13:38. The puck went into the Monsters net at 15:55 off the stick of San Antonio’s Troy Bodie; an assist credited to Jeff Hogan. A fluky bound off the boards set this goal up unfortunately, and it seemed Lake Eries’ undoing.
A penalty to Monsters left winger Justin Mercier less than a minute later set up the second Rampage power play goal with just over three minutes left in the first, giving San Antonio a 2-0 lead at the end of one. Center Kyle Turris took home the bacon on this goal; assists by Sean Sullivan and Viktor Tikhonov. This goal had eyes. Monster goalie Tyler Weiman was pasted to the right post, cutting off the narrow angle, but the puck somehow sneaked its way through his pads and into the net.
The second period finally allowed the Monster’s their first home goal of the season after a pair of opening home weekend shutout losses. Ryan Stoe punched it home after a nice pass by veteran captain Dan Willsie. Willsie carried the puck the length of the ice, dancing through a pair of defenders before slipping it to the right to a waiting Stoe. Things were looking up with Lake Erie down only a goal. Monsters fans remember Willsie from the previous season. He started out last year red-hot, and was called up to the Colorado Avalanche because of his stellar scoring effort at Lake Erie.
That optimism was quickly erased. The Rampage scored short-handed after holding the Monster’s offense and clearing the zone on a break-away. The second period ended with Lake Erie down on the scoreboard 3-1 and down in shots on goal as well by an 18-16 margin, although the Monsters did end up outshooting San Antonio in the period..
Too much Monster offensive finesse reared its ugly head in the second; the only signs of real feistiness appeared just before the period ended as a pushing-and-shovefest broke out behind play. The ref quickly broke up that little love-fest, but it was nice to see some spunk on the Monster side of things. Based on the first two periods, Lake Erie might be asked to change their last name from Monster.
It didn’t take long for San Antonio to open up a 4-1 lead, scoring just over a minute into the third period.
With 8:43 left in the third, three men graced the penalty box – two Rampage players and one Monster, making it a 4-on-3. The Monsters tried to make something happen, pulling the goalie and yet again going two men up to no avail. Weiman re-entered the net as a man on each side came back out of the penalty box 15 seconds later. The entire period was riddled with penalties, Lake Erie racking up fourr, San Antonio accounting for seven.
The whole third period, the crowd waited for Lake Erie to kick it up a notch, but the extra gear wasn’t there on this particular evening. Let’s hope it shows up Friday when the Lake Erie Monsters match up against the Toronto Marlies. The puck hits the ice at 7:30 both Friday and Saturday.