CLEVELAND – In front of 10,025 fans at The Q, Cleveland’s Lake Erie Monsters defeated the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday by a final score of 5-3 to claim the team’s first Calder Cup Playoff series victory in franchise history, three games to none. With the win, the Monsters advanced to the best-of-seven game Central Division Finals vs. the winner of the Grand Rapids Griffins’ and Milwaukee Admirals’ first-round series.
Fresh off a three-goal showing in game two, Monsters right wing Josh Anderson provided Lake Erie a 1-0 lead on Saturday with a power-play score at 9:30 of the opening stanza thanks to a strong transition setup from T.J. Tynan and Monsters captain Ryan Craig.
In the middle frame, Tynan and Sonny Milano combined to feed Zach Werenski for an even-strength right-point finish at 7:40 to make it 2-0 Monsters before a five-on-five wrist shot from Rockford’s Jonathan Carlsson fooled Lake Erie net-minder Joonas Korpisalo at 13:54 to draw the IceHogs within a goal.
The two teams traded tallies in the third, as Oliver Bjorkstrand scored 19 seconds into the period on the power-play thanks to feeds from Daniel Zaar and Michael Chaput before Tyler Motte posted an extra-man finish at 8:49 to draw the IceHogs back within one at 3-2. Back-to-back even-strength Monsters goals ensued, from Zaar at 10:42, assisted by Jaime Sifers and Alex Broadhurst, and Craig at 14:58, on feeds from Trent Vogelhuber and Milano, to push Lake Erie’s lead to 5-2 before an ultimately inconsequential Mark McNeill five-on-five marker capped the scoring at 5-3 at 18:34.
Joonas Korpisalo improved to 3-0-0 in the playoffs in net for the Monsters by virtue of a 21-save performance, while Mac Carruth’s 21 saves weren’t enough for Rockford to prevail.
Tickets for the first two home games of the Monsters’ second-round series are ON SALE NOW at LakeErieMonsters.com/Playoffs with times, dates and opponents all TBD.
Tickets for every Monsters home game start at just $10 and are on sale now! Full and partial season ticket memberships are also available and provide you with the best seat locations, custom member benefits and the lowest ticket prices. Group outing and birthday bash packages for 10 or more people are also on sale now. All tickets can be purchased by visiting LakeErieMonsters.com, calling (216) 420-0000, visiting The Q Box Office or any Northern Ohio Discount Drug Mart. Be sure to follow the Monsters on Twitter@monstershockey, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lakeeriemonsters, and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/monstershockey.