Bill Thomas scored the go-ahead goal for the Lake Erie Monsters with just over three minutes remaining in the game, and the Monsters (22-16-2-1) held on to defeat the Syracuse Crunch (24-10-2-3) by a 4-2 score Saturday night at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
Lake Erie rookie goalie Calvin Pickard won for the fifth time in his last six starts, stopping 29 shots for the Monsters. Saturday’s contest in Syracuse was the last of Lake Erie’s six straight road games; the Monsters went 5-1-0-0 over the stretch.
Despite the Crunch outshooting Lake Erie 11-6, neither team was able to score in the opening period.
Rookie Andrew Agozzino streaked up the ice on a breakaway following the expiration of his minor penalty, and while he was denied on his scoring opportunity, fellow first-year player Paul Carey followed and scored on the rebound for his seventh goal of the season. The marker was also assisted by Thomas Pock and gave the Monsters a 1-0 lead at 3:42 of the middle frame.
Pock put the Monsters ahead 2-0 when his point shot deflected by Syracuse goalie Riku Helenius at 8:55 of the second for his fifth goal of the season. Carey and newcomer Gary Steffes, who joined the Monsters last week, assisted.
Ondrej Palat scored twice for Syracuse in the second period- at 9:20 on a wrap-around and shorthanded at 16:23- to tie the game at 2-2 for the Crunch.
After the Monsters successfully killed off a five-minute major penalty in the third period, Thomas netted the game-winning goal on the power play for the Monsters on a one-timer from the top of the left circle at 16:59 of the final frame. Mike Sgarbossa and Mike Connolly were credited with the helpers on the goal.
Joel Chouinard scored an empty-netter for the Monsters in the game’s final second, his first of the season, resulting in the 4-2 final score.
Pickard is 11-9-1 after stopping 29 of 31 Syracuse shots. Helenius stopped 19 of 22 Monsters shots and is 7-6-0.
Following their six-game road swing, the Monsters will return home on Thursday (vs. Toronto, 7:00 p.m.) to host the first of five straight at Quicken Loans Arena.
NOTES: Bill Thomas has five goals and nine points over his last six games; the Monsters are 13-3-0-0 when he picks up a point… Thomas leads the Monsters with 15 goals… With his 11th win, Calvin Pickard ties fellow rookie netminder Sami Aittokallio, who also has 11 wins so far this season… The Monsters were 1-4 on the power play, and are 6-20 on the power play over their last five games… The Monsters are 14-9-1-0 on the road thus far in 2012-13.