Pickard leads Monsters to shutout win

The six Midwest-based American hockey League teams all saw action on the weekend (March 13-15, 2015) including the Lake Erie Monsters who had mixed results in the Lone Star State.

Lake Erie

Friday — Monsters 4 at Rampage 0

A 30-save effort for Calvin Pickard helped the Monsters to a 4-0 win at San Antonio’s AT&T Center Friday night and helped the Colorado Avalanche’s minor squad keep it’s slim but still visible playoff hopes alive.

With the sparkling effort in goal by Pickard the Monsters were able to build a 1-0 lead through the first period despite being outshot by the Florida Panthers’ top farm squad 11-6 through the first period. Ben Street scored the goal.

Ben Youds added another in the second and Kenny Ryan’s goal just six minutes from the end of the contest added insurance. The hosts never surrendered though, until Trevor Cheek fired one into an empty net with 3:35 to play.

Saturday — Monsters 2 at Rampage 5

Whatever was working for Pickard on Friday was negated quickly the following night as the Rampage scored three times in the opening segment and led 4-0 before the Monsters finally managed to get one over the line late in the second.

Like the Rampage a day earlier, the Monsters looked for a spark with the goaltender on the bench late in the game, but also like the previous day the move did not pay off as Dany Heatley fired his second of the game into an empty net to clinch the win for the home side.

Michael Schumacher rounded out the scoring with a meaningless goal for the Monsters with 21 seconds to go.

Andrew Agozzino had the other Monsters marker while Blake Parlett, Wade Megan and Garret Wilson each counted singles for the Rampage.

The Monsters will wrap up the Texas trip against the Texas Stars Tuesday, then return home for a tough challenge against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday.

Grand Rapids / Chicago / Rockford

Saturday — Ice Hogs 1 at Griffins 3

Jeff Hoggan’s goal with 5:11 to play finally gave the host Griffs a little breathing room in a hard fought and even battle with the visiting Ice Hogs.

The host Griffins — Top minor team for the Detroit Red Wings — held a narrow 29-28 edge in shots and for a while, goaltenders Michael Leighton for Rockford — Farm Team for the Chicago Blackhawks and  Tom McCollum for the hosts seemed unbeatable.

Rockford’s Matt Carey finally found a way through with just over five minutes to play in the second period on an Ice Hogs’ penalty but Ryan Sproul countered with a Griffs’ powerplay tally just a few minutes later.

Kevin Porter gave the home team its first lead in the final minute of the period with what turned out to be the game winner.

For the Griffins, this was the lone game of the weekend and players get a week off, but will enter a busy weekend coming up with home games against the Milwaukee Admirals Friday and Adirondack Flames Sunday with a quick dash to Cleveland to play the Monsters in between on Saturday.

Saturday –Comets 4 Wolves 0

The Wolves playoff chances took a tough hit on the weekend with a pair of losses, beginning on home ice at the Allstate Arena where they were shutout by the visiting Comets.

Jacob Markstrom proved unbeatable in goal for the top Minor League team of the Vancouver Canucks, stopping all 27 of the shots he faced while Matt Climie handled 31 of 34 for the St. Louis Blues’ farm squad, the final goal coming from Brendan Gaunce into an empty net.

Hunter Shinkaruk, Alex Friesen and Alexandre Grenier had the other Comets goals — two coming in the first and the other in the middle frame before Gaunce’s clincher with 1:50 to go in the contest.

Sunday — Ice Hogs 4 at Wolves 3

A pair of teams met at the the All State Arena Sunday afternoon looking to shake off a loss from the previous evening and it seemed the visitors would skate away with a relatively easy one for a while.

The Ice Hogs carried a 4-1 lead into the game’s final minute, but a powerplay tally with 46 seconds to go by Adam Cracknell followed by Shane Harper’s second of the contest 15 seconds later suddenly had the Wolves one shot from tying it up.

However, Antti Raanta held off the charges the rest of the way to pick up the win in goal for the Hogs who blew open a scoreless game with three unanswered middle period goals and actually added an empty netter with 1:39 remaining that appeared to have locked down the win.

Brandon Mashinter, Spencer Abbot and Ryan Hartman notched the middle period markers and Mark McNeil sank the empty netter for the Ice Hogs who remain one point away from fourth place with the win.

The two losses hurt the Wolves who sit in 10th spot, four points away from a playoff spot, but with three games in hand on eighth place Hamilton. In between in ninth spot is Adirondack, two points up on the Wolves.

Chicago will wrap up a four game homestand Thursday night against Texas Stars, then hit the road for a pair at Oklahoma City Saturday and Sunday.

The Ice Hogs begin a four game homestand Wednesday night against the visiting Adirondack Flames and will entertain the same team Saturday.


Saturday – Admirals 3 at Stars 4

The Admirals endured a rough weekend in Texas which dropped them perilously close to the playoff line.

In the first game Saturday the Admirals got off to a slow start but made a valiant comeback attempt that fell just short.

Despite an 11-5 edge in shots through the first period, the Ads – top Minor League team for the Nashville Predators, found themselves battling back from a 3-0 deficit before the game was nine minutes old.

Kevin Fiala pulled one back for the guests but the host Stars responded with a fourth goal just past the halfway mark of the middle period.

Anthony Bitetto gave the Admirals some hope with his goal 11 seconds from the end of the second, but that was all until Colton Sissons pulled the team within a goal with 72 seconds to play, making for an interesting finish.

Sunday Admirals 2 at Stars 6

The Admirals gained no momentum from the positive finish to Saturday’s game.

While closer after a period, trailing just 2-1, the Admirals were blown out of the water in the second as the home team notched three unanswered goals and chased Marek Mazanec from the crease.

Starting his second game in 24 hours, Mazanec was replaced by Magnus Helberg in the final period. He surrendered a goal 17 seconds in but nothing else, stopping seven of eight Stars’ shots in the frame.

Viktor Arvidsson had both Milwaukee goals in that game including the last one of the night with 6:52 to go, his 20th of the season.

The Admirals will stay on the road with a game at Oklahoma City Tuesday and Grand Rapids Friday before entertaining the same Texas Stars on Saturday night at the Bradley Center.


Sunday — Comets 4 at Wild 3 (SO)

It was a light, but entertaining weekend for the last place Wild as they entertained the Comets on Sunday afternoon and took the third place squad all of the way to a shootout after battling all of the way back from a 3-0 deficit.

Teams were scoreless through the first period but the Comets struck for three in the second – two on powerplays. The first two came 90 seconds apart and the other with 4:30 to go in the period.

Tyler Graovac finally got the Wild on the board 1:43 from the end of the middle period on a power play and another powerplay tally by Bowman 8:01 into the third made it a one-goal game. Newly added Steve McCarthy finished the comeback with 6:50 to play and teams played through a couple of scoreless extra frames before heading to shootout.

The shootout didn’t last long as Brandon DeFazio and Alexandre Grenier both counted goals for the Comets while goaltender Jacob Markstrom stopped both Wild shooters to finish it off in two rounds.

The game against Utica was the first of six straight on home ice for the Wild who will entertain the Charlotte Checkers on Saturday and Sunday.



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