Everyone, I promised you that this week would be LAKE ERIE MONSTERS WEEK AT GET HIGHER (LEMWAGH), and to kick things off, we have a post written by brand new GH contributor Todd Mathias! Todd will be helping me by bringing you Monsters information 1-2 a week. -Sarah
The American Hockey League (AHL) can be a very fluid league. It’s one where you get the chance to see future National Hockey League (NHL) players develop and become the stars of tomorrow. Being a feeder league for the NHL, the AHL is a place where faces can change at the drop of a hat. Your parent club has an injury and the player can be on a flight that day up to the show. While it is great to see guys get a chance at their dreams, it leaves holes at the lower level. This process is something one has to accept as a fan of an AHL team. The benefits though are that you do see some great hockey and again great talents as the season progresses.
This year the Lake Erie Monsters will have a totally new look in net. Cédrick Desjardins and Trevor Cann are both moving on, Desjardins to the Canadiens organization and Cann having not received a qualifying offer at the end of his contract term. There will be four goaltenders fighting for the two spots in Cleveland this year. Calvin Pickard, who played two games for the Monsters at the end of last season, is looking to make the jump into the AHL. Finnish tender Sami Aittokallio will also be poised to move to North America after playing in Finland. The Colorado Avalanche also have two goalies fresh from college. Kent Patterson comes from the University of Minnesota and Kieran Millan from Boston University. These two are very competent goaltenders but from everything I’ve seen they will be starting with the Denver Cutthroats of the CHL. Training camp will be very competitive though and there could be a surprise or two when all is said and done.
The Lake Erie Monsters corps of forwards is once again on the younger side of things. With the loss of veterans like Greg Mauldin and Ryan Stoa, the influx of players such as Paul Carey, Michael Sgarbossa, and a healthy Joey Hishon will have to step into the AHL ready to go. Again this year one gets the feeling that it will be a scoring by committee type team where each goal will be a hard fought one. Fan favorite Patrick Bordeleau will also be returning this year and will hope to improve on his AHL career high 4 goals while being a welcomed presence on the ice. Another player that will be returning this year is David Van Der Gulik. After splitting part of last season with the Avalanche, and receiving an extension this offseason Van Der Gulik will be looking to keep on pace for another solid season.
Defense for the Lake Erie Monsters this season will have some familiarity, with Cameron Gaunce, Tyson Barrie, and Stefan Elliott at least starting the season here in the AHL. All three cut their teeth in the AHL and are well on their way to breaking into the Avalanche roster eventually. One new face to look for will be Duncan Siemens. Duncan brings with him size and a physicality that will have to adapt to playing in a league with men as it will be his first full season out of the WHL. Some veteran signings will also bolster the defensive end of the Monsters. Sean Sullivan and Thomas Pöck will bring more size to the team as well as 512 combined games of AHL experience.