HERSHEY, PA – In the wake of a 4-1 Game 1 win on Wednesday, Cleveland’s Lake Erie Monsters claimed a 2-0 lead in the Calder Cup Finals following a 5-3 Game 2 victory over the Hershey Bears on Friday at Giant Center in Hershey, PA. Lake Erie is now two wins away from Cleveland’s first AHL Championship in 52 years as the best-of-seven series shifts to Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland for Monday’s Game 3.
The Monsters leapt to a 1-0 lead on Friday courtesy of a Zach Werenski power-play goal at 3:05 of the opening stanza, thanks to a sharp set-up from Ryan Craig and T.J. Tynan. In the second, a five-on-five Oliver Bjorkstrand goal at 4:29, assisted by Markus Hannikainen, made it 2-0 Monsters before Hershey’s Zach Sill pounded a five-on-three power-play marker past the left pad of Lake Erie net-minder Anton Forsberg at 8:48 to draw the Bears within a goal. Late in the middle frame, Lukas Sedlak posted his playoff-best ninth marker at 13:51 thanks to helpers from Kerby Rychel and Hannikainen to give the Monsters a 3-1 lead heading into the final frame.
In the third, Bjorkstrand rallied after absorbing a hard hit following the opening faceoff to post his second goal of the game at 2:04, a power-play tally, assisted by Michael Chaput and Daniel Zaar, that made it 4-1 Monsters. Hershey rallied with two unanswered even-strength goals, from Tyler Lewington and Liam O’Brien at 9:57 and 11:51 respectively, before Zaar buried an empty-net score at 18:59, fed by Craig and Chaput, to cap a 5-3 Lake Erie win.
Forsberg improved to 7-0 in the playoffs between the pipes for the Monsters by virtue of a 27-save performance while Hershey’s Justin Peters stopped 24 of the 28 pucks he faced in defeat.