After falling behind 3-0 in the Central Division Finals of the AHL playoffs, the Grand Rapids Griffins won games four and five, and had a chance to tie the series up at home in game six on Monday.
Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way. Despite taking a 3-1 lead early in the second period, the Lake Erie Monsters fought all the way back, eventually closing out the series with a 4-3 victory in overtime.
Grand Rapids got off to a quick start, as defenseman Ryan Sproul scored just 34 seconds into the game. Forward Tomas Nosek followed with another goal just 1:42 later, giving the Griffins a 2-0 lead just 2:16 into the game. Lake Erie cut the deficit in half at the 3:42 mark, and Grand Rapids took that 2-1 lead into the locker room after the first period.
Defenseman Xavier Ouellet restored the two goal lead just 1:48 into the second, but that would be the last of the scoring on the evening for Grand Rapids.
The Monsters scored the tying goal 1:43 into the third, and the score remained tied until overtime.
Grand Rapids had three separate power play opportunities in the last 10 minutes of regulation, but were unable to convert. After killing off a penalty of their own inside the last minute of regulation and the first minute of overtime, they had another power play in the overtime session, and again were unable to convert.
Monsters forward Zach Werenski, who recently finished his collegiate playing career at the University of Michigan, scored the game winner at 12:32 of the overtime period.
Note: The Griffins played the game without their top two goal scorers, Eric Tangradi and Martin Frk.