Grand Rapids Griffins (3) at Cleveland Monsters (4) - Shootout
Attendance: 10,797 people; over 500 dogs, one cat
Tonight was “Pucks and Paws” night for the Cleveland Monsters. Over 500 dogs and one cat were in attendance for the Monsters fight to stay in the playoff race.
The first goal of the night came 41 seconds into the game. Dominic Turgeon fired one at the net but it bounced off the post. Before Anton Forsberg could grab the rebound, Colin Campbell fired the puck into the back of the net.
With a little under six minutes remaining in the first period, the Griffins extended their lead to two. Dominick Shine redirected a shot from Evegeny Svechnikov to an open Turgeon. He went blocker side and scored.
Thirty seconds later, Vitaly Abramov passed the puck to Alex Broadhurst from behind the net. Broadhurst slammed it home to put the Monsters on the board.
Abramov tied things up seven minutes into the second period on a redirection pass from Jamie Sifers.
With five minutes left in the third period, Jordan Maletta out skated Joe Hicketts to the net and fired the puck through Jared Coreau's five-hole.
“Hannikainen made a great play by making Ford have only one option up to Hicketts. When I realized that I went towards his only option and tipped it by Hicketts. The puck was rolling on me. So, I was trying to calm it down. Luckily, I found a hole between the goalie's legs.” - Jordan Maletta
The closer it got to the end of the third period, the more it felt like the Monsters were going to win. The Griffins decided to pull Coreau with a little over a minute to play.
With 17.6 minutes to play in regulation, Matthew Ford fired a rocket from the high slot to tie things up.
The game stayed tied for the rest of the third and through overtime.
If you've been following the Monsters all season, you are probably not shocked when I say this game was headed to a shootout.
Evgeny Svechnikov: He went backhand to forehand before firing at the net. Forsberg caught the shot square in his glove. - No Goal
Zac Dalpe: Dalpe raced towards the net and fired a rocket of a shot past Coreau. - Goal
Matthew Ford: Ford rushed the net but Forsberg was there to brush the shot away from the net. - No Goal
Markus Hannikainen: Hannikainen sped towards the net but then slowed almost to a stop before backhanding the puck into the net. - Goal
“ I was thinking about maybe shooting the front side but I saw the goalie was so far out I just did a little deke and a backhand.” - Markus Hannikainen
The Monsters had just earned a much needed two points.
But Wait! There's More
- Vitaly Abramov is a dream to watch play. He has the skills, intensity, and drive to do great things. Tonight I noticed tonight Abramov is not afraid to take a hit. He's no pansy that is for sure.
“His last two games have been great. He's been real good for us. Not because he scored a goal tonight and got an assist. He's a dog on the puck and he gets after it. I enjoy his game. He's been responsible defensively for us. He brought some energy to our team the last two games.” - Head Coach John Madden
- You know a game is intense when Dean Kukan fights someone and Zac Dalpe gets into a war of words with another player. These are two of the most level headed players on the ice.
“Pretty much that was a playoff game right there. We had three or four fights. There was a line brawl. It's what you expect going into the playoffs.” - Jordan Maletta
- You would think being down by two would make a team self-conscious. This was not the case for the Monsters.
“We are a confident bunch right now. We know that we can battle back in games. everything is not going to go your way right off the bat all the time.” - Head Coach John Madden
- The penalty kill and power play started out a bit sloppy tonight. With all the penalties doled out tonight, the special teams were able to start working out kinks.
- Kukan worked his butt off all night long. He created plays, had beautiful passes, and wasn't afraid to lay a nice hard check or two.
- John Ramage had luck on his side tonight. For every play he flubbed, a member of the Griffins flubbed a play too. For instance, Ramage accidentally passed to a Griffin. It could have been detrimental for the Monsters. However, the Griffins ended up offsides. Crisis averted.
- T.J. Tynan was out on the ice pushing people out of the crease like he's 6'6”. He and Joe Pendenza were laying some incredible hits on guys much bigger than them.
- By the time the last five minutes rolled around the Monsters were playing with four defenders. Oleg Yevenko was ejected after a second-period line brawl. Dean Kukan received a 10-minute game misconduct with a little over five minutes to play in regulation. Knowing they were down two defenders, the Monsters offense turned up the heat for the remainder of the game.
- Finally, I could listen to “We Don't Give A D*** For the Whole State of Michigan” all day, every day.
1st – Markus Hannikainen (Shootout goal, 1a)
2nd – Vitaly Abramov (1g, 1a)
3rd – Jordan Maletta (1g, 0a)
Honorable Mention: The Fans
When the lone cat in attendance was shown on the humungotron, the whole crowd started booing. Monsters fans are truly one of the best parts of covering this game.
Side note: How could you not love cats? I mean look at this beautiful angel.
Vitaly Abramov earned both his 1st AHL/Professional goal and 1st AHL/Professional assist tonight.
Ryan Collins earned his 1st AHL/Professional assist during Abramov's goal.
After multiple attempts in the past two days, Mitch Callahan was able to get Dean Kukan to drop the gloves. This was Kukan's first AHL fight.
The Charlotte Checkers beat the Texas Stars, 3-1, earlier today. They maintain the 4th spot and the Monsters continue to sit in the 5th spot.
Last night the Chicago Wolves hopped into the 1st place spot in the division due to the Monsters beating the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Admirals follow closely behind the Griffins at third. It's quite possible the Griffins could lose home ice advantage.
The Checkers play two of their last three games against the Griffins. The Monsters need the Griffins to take the negative energy of being swept and use it to fuel them to wins against the Checkers.
The Cleveland Monsters play their final two games of the regular season against the Manitoba Moose on Thursday and Friday. Both games will take place at 7pm est.
“Hopefully (we) beat Manitoba these next two and get some help from the other teams.” - Jordan Maletta
Monsters fans, be prepared to get to both games as early as possible. Parking will be sparse. The Indians play the White Sox on Thursday at 6:10 pm and 7:10 pm on Friday.