31-13-4-4, 70 pts
#1 Western Conference
|Lake Erie Monsters
25-20-2-6, 58 pts
#7 Western Conference
February 22nd at 6:30 PM
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
The last time Texas played Lake Erie, it wasn't looking so great for the Stars. Coming off a 29th place finish in the prior year, Texas was 3-6-0 going into a Saturday night matchup with the Monsters. Things looked alright for the Stars, who had it tied after two periods. Then it got bad as two goals scored 14 seconds apart made it 4-2 Lake Erie. What cam next just might have changed the Stars' season.
Cody Eakin struck first to make it 4-3 with just two minutes to go. And then Matt Fraser scored a goal that many Stars fans likely still remember clearly. With one second left on the clock, Fraser shoveled the puck into the net from a bad angle and tied things at four. Texas would go on to lose in the shootout, but it was about the comeback.
"We could have gotten disheartened but we stayed in it," said Desjardins in the postgame.
Take a second to read this post that I wrote on November 14th entitled "Was Saturday's Game Against Monsters the Most Important of the Season?" and tell me you don't agree at least a little bit with the assertion that it was a turning point. Just look at the Stars' record in games where they get scored on first (15-12-4-1) to see the difference that believing in the team together can make .
Lake Erie has gone the opposite direction but is still in the hunt. The Monsters started hot and have played bubble hockey over the last little bit here. They are 2-4-0-4 in the last ten games and, until last night, were on an eight game winless streak.
They are led up front by Andrew Agozzino, a former juniors teammate of Jamie Oleksiak. The undrafted and (to some) undersized center has 13 goals and 24 assists this season to go with a plus-13 rating. Former Rampage winger Bill Thomas is second in active scoring at 17-13-30 but carries a minus-4 rating.
In an interesting statistical note, every goalie that has been with the Monsters this season is a rookie. Calvin Pickard, former teammate of Brenden Dillon in Seattle, has the majority of starts with a 14-11-4 record, 2.59 GAA and .915 SV%.
Sami Aittokallio, who has 20 games palyed, is out with a lower body injury. Kent Patterson has three games of action in his stead, going 0-2-1 with a 2.30 GAA and .915 SV%. Patterson is an Avalanche draft pick who just finished his college career in Minnesota and had been with the Denver Cutthroats (CHL) this season.
Stars injury/call up report:
R. Smith, Roussel, Nilstorp, Fraser, Benn (call up)
Glennie, Nemeth, Sloan, Morin, Chiasson, Fortunus (injured)
Blog (unofficial): Cleveland Plain Dealer