Monsters win, close gap in North race

Lake Erie captain Brian Willsie tallied the eventual game-winning goal and assisted on an insurance goal as the Monsters captured a critical 3-1 road win over Peoria on Thursday at Carver Arena.

With the victory, the Monsters pulled within four points of idle Manitoba for the North Division’s fourth and final playoff spot. Lake Erie has five games left to play, while the Moose have six.

T.J. Hensick converted an early power play to give Lake Erie a 1-0 lead just 2:21 into the contest, tallying his 20th goal of the season. Ryan Stoa and Tom Preissing earned the assists.

Willsie made it 2-0 at 39 seconds of the second period, with Preissing and Hensick picking up helpers. Willsie and Stoa then assisted on Mark Olver’s first professional goal at 14:27 of the second frame.

Lake Erie carried a 3-0 lead into the third period, but the Rivermen finally got on the board with 4:08 to play when Cam Paddock notched his 13th goal of the season.

It was as close as Peoria would get, though, as Monsters goaltender Tyler Weiman finished with 25 saves on 26 shots in the winning effort.

The Rivermen remain four points back of Milwaukee for the West Division’s final postseason entry.