Borna Rendulic's first American Hockey League goal pulled the Lake Erie Monsters (1-1-0-0) to within a tally in the third period, but the Grand Rapids Griffins (1-1-0-0) held on for a 3-2 win at the Monsters home opener Saturday night. A Quicken Loans Arena crowd of 13,135 was on-hand for the Monsters first home game of the season. Paul Carey also scored for the Monsters. The Monsters visit Chicago Friday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Carey fired home a bouncing puck from in front of the Grand Rapids net at 4:26 of the first period to give the Monsters a 1-0 lead. Mike Sgarbossa and Kenny Ryan assisted on the goal, with each making plays to keep the puck in the offensive end and push it toward the net. Grand Rapids countered though, first by tying the game eight seconds into their first power play of the game. A Nathan Paetsch one-timer was tipped by Mitch Callahan past Calvin Pickard, tying the game 1-1 at 6:50 of the first period.
Kevin Porter lifted the Griffins to a 2-1 advantage when he scored on a wrist shot from the left circle at 16:42 of the first period. The Griffins advantage grew to 3-1 when Teemu Pulkkinen scored the eventual game-winning goal- a one-timer from the right circle- at 1:03 of the second period.
In the third period, with the Monsters on a power play, Colin Smith sent a pass behind the net to Andrew Agozzino, who spotted Rendulic in the right circle. Rendulic sent a low shot past Griffins goalie Tom McCollum at 5:54 of the third period to pull the Monsters to within a goal, but the Monsters were unable to tie the game. Late in the game, the Monsters applied furious pressure on the Griffins, who held their ground long enough to secure the two points.
Calvin Pickard took the loss in net for the Monsters, falling to 1-1-0 on the season; he stopped 22 of 25 shots. Tom McCollum is 1-0-0 on the season after stopping 17 of 19 Monsters shots.
The Monsters visit Chicago Friday for their first meeting of the season against the Wolves. The game starts at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and airs live on AM 1420 ‘The Answer'.
NOTES: The Monsters and Griffins split the opening weekend two-game set, with each team earning a road victory… the Monsters are 1-1-0-0 against the Griffins on the season, and are 1-1-0-0 in Midwest Division play… Over the last five seasons, the Monsters and Griffins each have 17 wins against the other… The Monsters were 1-4 on the power play, while Grand Rapids was 1-2… Andrew Agozzino has assists in each of the first two games this season… Paul Carey has a goal and two assists in two games to open the season… Mike Sgarbossa has three assists in the season's first two games… Kenny Ryan had an assist Saturday, a night after picking up his first goal as a Monster…