Lake Erie winger Matthew Ford (1+1) continued to add to his team-leading goal count (26) after opening up the scoring in the first and dishing out an assist later in the game. Maury Edwards (1+0), Curtis Fraser (1+0) and Ben Walters (1+0) also all added goals of their own in a three-tally surge in the second. In the shootout, Julian Talbot had the game-winning shot in the seventh-round.
John Grahame manned the pipes in his 34th appearance with the Monsters and sealed the victory by holding on to 30 of Rochester’s 34 shots. Grahame’s composure also held up throughout the overtime period and only allowed one goal in the shootout.
Scoring the unassisted goal with only one minute left and forcing overtime, Clay Wilson (2+0), who rejoined the team after wrapping up the big club’s season last night in Florida, was the top player for the Amerks in tonight’s contest. Defenseman Mike Kostka, who leads all AHL blueliners in goals (16), was also part of the three-goal third and had one on the power-play. The blueliner was the only player on the team to appear in all 80 games and finishes off the season with a team-leading 55 points. Lastly, Patrick Rissmiller (0+2) added two helpers. Kostka and Rissmiller earned the second and third star honors, respectively.
Netminder Alex Petizian, who replaced fellow crease man Marc Cheverie after letting Lake Erie take a two-goal lead, proved his worth by only allowing one goal on 12 shots and had a solid first professional shootout, though being handed the loss.
The Monsters struck first in the contest off the rush at 7:08, when Ford netted his 26th of the season. After Cheverie turned away an initial shot off the stick of Justin Mercier from the right circle, Ford crashed the net and jammed the loose puck, along with the netminder’s pad, over the line for a good goal.
The Amerks, however, quickly responded with a tally of their own just 34 seconds later. PJ Fenton made his way out from behind the Lake Erie “cage” and his pass, after hitting a skate in front, caromed right to Eric Selleck at the right post. The rugged first-year winger made no mistake about knotting the game at one, as he deposited the biscuit into the open side of the net.
Lake Erie opened and closed the scoring in the second stanza with three unanswered tallies to snap the tie and take a 4-1 lead. Edwards would strike first with a slap-shot from the top of the slot, which sailed smoothly through traffic and past Cheverie at 3:06 for his first goal of the season.
Then just under two minutes later, Fraser added his fifth goal of the season upon a pass from winger Zach Cohen. Ford received the secondary assist. The last of the goals came at 17:25 from point-leader Ben Walters, good for his 23rd of the season. Forward Peter Boyd redirected the puck to Walters, who then wound up and took the shot extending their lead by three.
When it seemed as if the Amerks were beginning to fade, they used the intermission to come out firing in the third period, cashing in three goals of their own. Wilson scored the first at 2:10, with help from Kostka and former Monster Rissmiller.
Kostka then contributed his first goal of the night by picking up his own rebound and sending a backhanded-dive past Grahame at 13:15 on the power-play. Wilson once again managed to find the back of the net with exactly one minute left in regulation on the breakaway for the unassisted evener, forcing the extra frame and a 4-4 score.
In the sudden-death overtime period, both goalies proved up to the task sending the game into a shootout. Once in the skills competition, Bill Thomas scored in the second-round for Rochester, while despite Petizian’s excellent read of the puck in the first four rounds, let Luke Walker’s shot dribble by him in the fifth. Talbot then sealed the deal for Lake Erie in the seventh for the 5-4 victory.