The Lake Erie Monsters came within 30 seconds of winning both of their games this past weekend with the Charlotte Checkers, but a late Charlotte goal Saturday night set up a shootout from which the Checkers emerged with the extra point.
Still, it could safely be deemed another successful weekend for the Blue Jackets' farm team as the Monsters took three of four points and secured their hold on second place (by winning percentage) in the AHL's Central Division. Lake Erie's record stands at 4-1-0-2.
On Thursday the Monsters scored twice in the final minutes of the second period but had to work hard to hold off an aggressive Charlotte team for a 3-2 win. Two days later was the shootout loss, which ended in a 6-5 score. Once again the Monsters' two goalies split duties over the weekend, with Anton Forsberg getting the victory in the first game and Joonas Korpisalo giving up his first goals of the season and fighting the puck much of the night before being bested in the shootout.
Turning to the"How Long Will The Jackets' Front Office Allow Kerby Rychel to Stay in Cleveland?" Watch, young Rychel had a combined five points (2-3-5) in the two games against Charlotte, running his season stat line to 4-6-10. That was good enough for ninth in the AHL in scoring entering yesterday's games, even though Rychel had played fewer games (six) than almost everyone on the list above him.
There are times when Rychel looks like he simply doesn't belong at the AHL level. Those are the times when he's skating, passing and thinking faster than anyone else on the ice. There are also (admittedly fewer) times when he appears to be a bit less engaged, though in fairness, it's difficult to play every single shift at the level at which Rychel has been playing.
Also, because we have a strange fascination with him, we feel compelled to let you know what Oleg Yevenko is doing. On Thursday, the 6-foot-7 Belarusian was scoring his first professional goal on a shot from just inside the blue line. On Saturday he was held off the score sheet, so instead he made his presence felt by getting into a fight with veteran Charlotte enforcer Kyle Hagel. Not sure if it was a punch by Yevenko or if Hagel was cut by his own helmet, but you'll note at the :51 mark of that video (when Hagel turns the left side of his face to the camera) a considerable amount of blood on his visor.
Anyway, it should also be noted that Yevenko was assessed with an ill-timed boarding penalty at 18:46 of the third period on Saturday that helped seal the Monsters' fate. With Yevenko off and Charlotte having pulled goalie Drew MacIntyre, the Checkers had a 6-on-4 advantage and applied intense pressure on Korpisalo and the Monsters' defense. Things got worse when Jaime Sifers' stick was slashed and broken (an act that really should have resulted in a Charlotte penalty), effectively giving the Checkers a 6-on-3.
It was perhaps inevitable, then, that Phil Di Giuseppe, Charlotte's leading scorer, would find a way to put the puck in the net, which he did at the 19:29 mark to tie the game at 5. Neither team managed to score in a thrilling 3-on-3 overtime period, after which Charlotte's Derek Ryan scored the lone goal of the shootout, beating Korpisalo on a wrister in the third and final round.
The Monsters had three separate two-goal leads on Saturday and couldn't hold on. That game also saw them register their lowest shot total of the season, as Charlotte held a 35-24 advantage in that department.
Other notable statistical tidbits from the weekend:
- Markus Hannikainen had a goal and an assist in Thursday's win
- Daniel Zaar had his first two goals of the season on Saturday, one of which was a power-play tally as Lake Erie went 3 for 5 with the man advantage.
- Defensemen Andrew Bodnarchuk and Michael Paliotta each had two assists in the game Saturday.
- Ohio-born Trent Vogelhuber scored a pretty shorthanded goal Saturday, racing in from the right side and wiring the puck up and over the glove of MacIntyre. MacIntyre, you will note, has played for eight different AHL teams over the years and so has been around the block a time or two. Firing a puck over that glove hand of his takes notable skill, so kudos to Vogelhuber for that.
- Sonny Milano was 1-2-3 in the two games, getting his first goal of the season just 2:25 into Saturday's game when he managed to push the puck through MacIntyre's legs and just over the goal line to produce an early 2-0 Monsters advantage.
And so the Monsters get the week off before hitting the road for three games in three days this weekend. Friday they'll be at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee for an 8 p.m. Eastern tilt against the Admirals, followed by a pair in Des Moines against the Iowa Wild on Saturday (8 p.m.) and Sunday (4 p.m.)