Cleveland, OH – Going into this game, both teams were pretty evenly matched. Leaders in points for both were in the fifties, Andrew Agozzino with 52 points and Connor Brown of the Marlies with 55. Starting goalies with almost equal save percentages, this was gearing up to be a good one.
Right out of the gate, the Monsters were on top of it. A called off goal early in the period gave them the momentum they needed to find their way to the net and get off some solid shots. Not to be outdone, Marlies players were skating hard, keeping plays alive for multiple chances and giving Pickard a run for his money. Both teams had solid control and were doing well offensively. Monsters taking their time for solid passes and shooting, kept up pressure throughout the first. In turn, their opponents had great communication, making sure to be where they were needed and anticipating chances in the Monsters zone.
The second started with the monsters struggling against the Canadian wall. But then just 5:76 into the period, Michael Schumacher sends it into the net on a backhander from Kenny Ryan. Keeping up the onslaught, Agozino scored his 24th of the season just two minutes later. Toronto was relying heavily on offensive action and falling apart in their own zone. Agozzino was in a league of his own when he scored his second of the night, a shorthanded at 10:56. Thats when Antoine Bibeau came onto the ice to relieve Christopher Gibson. After the change, it was only a matter of time till the Marlies got on the board with their offense getting in chances right and left. Josh Leivo knocked in a rebound with just under three minutes left, marking an end to the Monsters goals that night.
In the third, both teams were moving a little slower, and a little more deliberately. Lake Erie were looking shaky and not as focused as the previous period. They took some penalties that could have been avoided and were having trouble finding their groove. Marlies, on the other hand, were desperate. They were making wild shots and trying their best to close the scoring gap. Their chance came at 4:44 when TJ Brennan capitalized on the power play and put another point up. This seemed to wake up the home team who got more chances to break up some plays from the Marlies. Although the Monsters had great defense, their offense was lacking. Pickard kept his composure the entire time, making saves left and right and keeping his team in the lead. Until, with just 1:05 left in regulation Bryan Froese tied it up.
At the end of regulation, the Monsters were outshooting the Marlies 32-29. The visitors had the upper hand through the third period and were eager to get out on the ice for overtime. It may have been the Wednesday overtime loss to the Admirals, but the Monsters were not as aggressive as they could have been in the time they had. Not getting any shots off, they had a tough time creating offensive chances and keeping the Marlies at bay. Only 1:06 into it, Matt Frattin came up and put the puck past Pickard to win it.
The three goal lead had the Monsters distracted and confident. It gave the Marlies chances to regroup and play a consistent game. When it was all over, Coach Chynoweth talked about making sure the team can walk the walk (or skate the skate as the case may be), on and off the bench. When asked about the overtime loss as well as the previous one he said that follow through is crucial and comes with experience. He emphasized the need for maturity on the ice, and noted that these types of games are what proves players metal.