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New Season, New Faces for Monsters Organization

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There were many moves during the 2017 off-season for the Monsters. The start of the season brought many new faces into Quicken Loans Arena.

photo credit: Cleveland Monsters/John Saraya
Cleveland Monsters/John Saraya

As fans fill into the Quicken Loans Arena this season, they will notice new faces and hear new voices. The offseason was filled with moves, both on and off the ice.

With a busy summer, such as this one, you're bound to miss a few things.

After nine seasons, Ryan Pritt decided to retire from his PA Announcing duties. Jasen Sokol of “The Jasen Sokol Show” on 1590-WAKR is taking over for Pritt this season. If you're a Lake County Captains fan, you've already heard Sokol in action.

Everyone's favorite in-game host and hype man, Olivier, took a job with the Brooklyn Nets. After 11 seasons of spunk, it sure is going to be strange to not hear his energetic voice in the Q.

The news which left Monsters fans heartbroken was the retirement of the Mullet Brothers.

They have been a staple of the organization since the AHL came back to Cleveland in 2007. Their fan interactions were superb and often heartwarming. Their antics while cleaning the ice filled the arena with cheer. They will surely be missed.

In the Mullet Brothers absence, there will be an Ice Crew of 8-10 people.

Assistant Coach, Toby Petersen joined the Rochester Americans coaching staff. Gregory Campbell and Chris Clark will be splitting duties behind the Monsters bench this season.

Players We've Lost Along the Way

To Columbus

Elaine Shircliff

Six Monsters from the 2016-17 season are wearing the union blue this season. Two, in particular, are having a stellar year with the parent team.

Frank “Sonny” Milano is currently on a three-game goal streak with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He has four goals. Three were the first Jackets goal of the game and one was an overtime game winner.

Oliver Bjorkstrand assisted on two of Milano’s goals.

To Other Teams

Elaine Shircliff

With Jaime Sifers, Ryan Craig, and T.J. Tynan gone, the Monsters lost the majority of their leadership crew during the offseason. The hunt for a Captain is still on for the team. It looks like the Monsters will be rolling with three alternate captains per game for a little bit longer.

Anton Forsberg being sent to Chicago opened up a spot for the backup goaltender, Brad Thiessen, to finally shine as a starter.

Newbies

Elaine Shircliff

* Bobby MacIntyre and Ivan Kulbakov were both loaned to the ECHL.

* Josh Anderson was in Cleveland for conditioning. After the Monsters’ home opener, he went back to Columbus.

Andre Benoit

Andre Benoit has spent 12 seasons hopping between playing professionally in North America and Europe. He has been a leader and veteran presence on teams like the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL), Spartak Moscow (KHL), Colorado Avalanche (NHL), and Malmo Redhawks (SHL).

The undrafted defenseman is no stranger to success in the AHL. Benoit was a defining factor in both the Hamilton Bulldogs (2007) and Binghamton Senators (2011) Calder Cup wins. In all three of his playoff appearances, Benoit led all defenders in postseason assists.

Calvin Thurkauf

Even though Calvin Thurkauf was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2016 Entry Draft, this will be his first season playing in the organization.

The young center spent the last two seasons playing for the Kelowna Rockets. While there he notched 51 goals and 64 assists.

Last year, Thurkauf captained Switzerland's U20 team.

If you ever get a chance to watch Thurkauf play, take a few minutes to watch him skate. He is a strong and elegant skater who floats effortlessly around the ice. Every stride on the ice is like watching the strokes of Van Gogh’s brush on canvas.

Cameron Gaunce

Cameron Gaunce is a familiar face to Monsters fans. From 2010-13, Gaunce played for the Monsters, scoring 9 goals and 51 assists.

The year after leaving the organization, Gaunce helped the Texas Stars win the 2014 Calder Cup. Most recently, Gaunce played for the 2017 Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Gaunce will bring a culture of excellence and hard work to this young Monsters squad.

Carter Camper

In his seventh year as a pro, Carter Camper is finally home.

While the NHL is the dream, being in Cleveland has the Rocky River native excited for him and his family.

“I've been away, this is my seventh year of pro, four years of college, and a couple years of juniors. My parents have supported me so well and they have traveled so many hours throughout the years and so many miles. For them to be here, 15 minutes down the road is really neat for them” - Carter Camper

Camper is a playmaker who tries to make everyone around him a better player.

Carter Camper races to get the puck in Saturday’s home opener against the IceHogs. (Photo Credit: Cleveland Monsters/John Saraya)
Cleveland Monsters/John Saraya

Doyle Somerby

Former Captain of Boston University, Doyle Somerby, signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets in August. He was assigned to the Monsters during training camp. While at BU, Somerby posted 8 goals, 19 assists, and a +19 rating.

Hayden Hodgson

Hayden Hodgson spent the past five seasons playing in the OHL for the Erie Otters, Sarnia Sting, and Saginaw Spirit. While playing for the Spirit during the 2016-17 season, Hodgson tallied 38 goals and 28 assists over 67 games.

John Mitchell

Thirteen seasons of experience is what the Monsters picked up with forward John Mitchell.

Drafted in 2003 by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Mitchell wouldn't see professional ice time until the 2005-06 season with the Toronto Marlies. He was a staple in the Leafs system until February 28th, 2011 when he was traded to the New York Rangers.

After a not so stellar season and a half of play, Mitchell took a swim in the free agency waters.

On July 1st, 2012, the Avalanche signed Mitchell and he would call Colorado home until this past summer.

Mitchell flies under the radar and most coaches don't know how to use him properly. The ability to be a top six player is there. Let's hope Coach Madden can pull greatness out of him this season.

Markus Nutivaara

The Blue Jackets signed Finnish defenseman, Markus Nutivaara, to a two-year entry-level contract in May of 2016. He played 66 games for the Jackets in 2016-17 scoring 7 points. During theJackets short-lived playoff run, Nutivaara notched two assists.

At the end of the season, GM Jarmo Kekalainen told reporters Nutivaara had potential to be a top-four defenseman. Unfortunately, by the time this season rolled around he was sent to the Monsters.

Nutivaara struggled in the Monsters home opener missing passes and leaving skilled opponents unattended in front of the net. Compared to last season he has slowed down.

This could all be due to the fact Nutivaara had hip surgery in the summer.

Matiss Kivlenieks

After having a standout season in the USHL, the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Matiss Kivlenieks to a three-year entry-level contract. It's not often a goaltender wins both “Player of the Year” and “Goaltender of the Year” in the same season.

Kivlenieks record of 36-7-4-2 led the Sioux City Musketeers to become the USHL's regular season champions.

Kivlenieks will do well in the AHL as long as he can soak up everything Brad Thiessen has to offer as a mentor.

Tyler Motte

Last season, Tyler Motte split time between the Rockford IceHogs and Chicago Blackhawks tallying 23 points between the two.

The Columbus Blue Jackets received him when they traded Brandon Saad to the Blackhawks for Artemi Panarin.

When paired with the right people, Motte is an incredible playmaker.

Your head is probably spinning from the mass amounts of departures and arrivals. To make things easier, here is the link to the Monsters final roster. https://www.clevelandmonsters.com/team/roster