(griffinshockey.com) – The Grand Rapids Griffins were unable to come back from an early deficit on Friday at the WFCU Centre, surrendering a 5-2 decision to the Lake Erie Monsters in the first of two neutral-site preseason games between the two teams.
Lake Erie quickly gained momentum after Andreas Athanasiou was whistled for interference just 19 seconds into the contest. At 1:48 of the first period, Monsters left wing Michael Schumacher fed the puck to center Joey Hishon as he entered the Griffins’ zone. Hishon backhanded the puck over Tom McCollum’s shoulder for a power play goal to give Lake Erie an early 1-0 lead.
Shorthanded following a hooking call on Cody Corbett, Lake Erie’s Markus Lauridsen gained possession of the puck just inside his own blue line. He then rifled a clearing attempt toward the Grand Rapids net at 7:58 and the puck slipped through McCollum’s pads to put the Monsters up 2-0.
Grand Rapids responded at 13:06 of the same period when Athanasiou absorbed a pass from Colin Campbell and found his way around Monsters netminder Sami Aittokallio to cut the disadvantage to a single goal. But Lake Erie’s Mike Sgarbossa restored the Monsters’ two-goal lead at 17:44 when he beat McCollum glove-side with a wrist shot from the right circle.
At 10:47 of the second period, Sgarbossa notched his second goal of the game from the top of McCollum’s crease to put the Monsters up 4-1.
Midway through the second period, Lake Erie opted to switch out Aittokallio in favor of goaltender Roman Will, who remained solid until 6:45 of the third period when Griffins tryout Jerome Verrier lifted an unassisted rebound above Will’s shoulder to make it a 4-2 contest.
Just inside the Griffins’ blueline, Monsters defenseman Stefan Elliot’s shot found the skate of a Griffins defender and deflected past an already-poised McCollum at 13:35 to give Lake Erie its final 5-2 lead.
Aittokallio blocked 10 of 11 shots before Will turned away 19 of the 20 shots he faced. McCollum blocked 32 of 37 shots in the loss.