Cleveland Monsters (5) at Lehigh Valley Phantoms (1)
The Cleveland Monsters were looking to take advantage of a tired Lehigh Vallley Phantoms team. The Phantoms played a back-to-back-to-back against three different teams in Canada this past weekend. Two days off might not have been enough time for the Phantoms to recover from their travels.
It was clear from the moment the puck dropped that everyone on the Phantoms, but Alex Lyon, was riding the struggle bus. The Monsters maintained momentum for most of the first period. If it wasn’t for Lyon, the first period would have ended with a much higher score than 0-0.
The first goal of the night came 10:18 into the second period courtesy of Cleveland. Chris Conner barreled down the ice towards Jean-Francois Berube. As he neared the crease, Conner fired off a shot which had all the makings of becoming a goal. Except, Berube was able to stop it from entering the net. Sonny Milano picked up the puck and raced down the ice. Spotting Ryan MacInnis open in the slot, Milano passed him the puck and MacInnis proceeded to find the back of the net.
After the Monsters first goal of the evening, Conner spent the rest of the period trying to crack Berube’s code. Lucky for the Monsters, Berube was tougher to get into than Fort Knox.
Four minutes into the third period, the Monsters extended their lead to 2-0 over the Phantoms. Dean Kukan fired a rocket from below the blue line which trickled into the net.
Almost two minutes later, a tipped shot by Nicolas Aube-Kubel put the Phantoms on the board.
The Monsters were not ok with the Phantoms getting on the board. They turned up the pressure and started to fire at all cylinders. You could tell they were going to try everything they could to get the puck past Lyon.
One of the more impressive parts of the third period was how many times the Monsters were able to force turnover. Normally, the Monsters are the ones giving the puck up. Last night, I think I saw around three or four takeaways in the third. Including a takeaway by Kevin Stenlund 9:43 into the period. This particular takeaway turned into the Monsters third goal of the evening.
Vitaly Abramov launched a shot towards Lyon with six minutes left in the game. The puck was initially denied entry. However, Justin Scott came up big with the rebound to extend the Monsters lead over the Phantoms to 4-1.
A few minutes later, the Phantoms pulled their goalie in an attempt to gain some scoring power and get the momentum back in their favor. Milano had other ideas.
With 3:30 left in the game, Milano raced away from the pack and backhanded the puck into the Phantoms’ empty net.
Towards the end of the game, the Phantoms began to turn up the heat. Which could prove disastrous to the Monsters of the past. This particular Monsters’ team, on the other hand, viewed it as a way to bring their game to the next level. The Monsters applied a lot of pressure to make sure the Phantoms wouldn’t get close to winning this game. By doing so, they held the Phantoms off to win 5-1 in regulation.
But Wait! There’s More
1st – Dean Kukan (1g, 1a)
2nd – Sonny Milano (1g, 2a)
3rd – Jean-Francois Berube (35 shots faced, 34 saves, 60:00 TOI)
The Monsters have a day off before heading to Wilkes-Barre Scranton to take on the Penguins on Friday, December 7th at 7:05 pm.