Cleveland Monsters (4) at Lehigh Valley Phantoms (2)
Going into last night’s game, the Cleveland Monsters played 11 straight games with alternating outcomes. Since they lost on Friday night, the Monsters were looking to win tonight and make it 12 straight games with alternating outcomes.
While, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms had a lot of motivation to get on the board as it was the teddy bear toss game. In fact, the Phantoms fired off a lot of shots in the first 30 seconds of the game. Despite their strong effort in those first few seconds, it wouldn’t begin raining bears until 4:06 into the game.
Jean-Francois Berube had just made a huge save on Greg Carey. Both Tommy Cross and Greg Bunnaman chased the blocked shot behind the net. Bunnaman got to the puck first and sent it down the boards to Chris Conner. He played with it for a bit before tossing it to T.J. Brennan who was posted at the blue line. Brennan sauced it back to Conner. Seeing Carey open at the left point, Conner fired the puck over to Carey who launched it down the ice before Bunnaman tipped it into the net.
While everyone was cleaning bears off the ice, a few Phantoms players found a plush soccer ball and started kicking it around.
Once the break was over both teams were ready to go and laying hard hits.
With 10:46 left in the first period, Gabriel Carlsson took a hard hit in the corner near Berube and struggled to get off the ice. This was the last time he would be seen all game.
Tension began to flare when Cross didn’t like the way he was hit by Nicolas Aube-Kubel. The both dropped the gloves with 7:54 left in the first. The refs must not have liked the Aube-Kubel hit either. He was assessed a roughing penalty on top of a fighting penalty.
The Monsters headed to their first power play of the night. Boy, was it a good one. Short but good.
Zac Dalpe won the offensive zone face off. Paul Bittner picked the puck up and immediately passed it to Adam Clendening who was at the blue line. Clendening waited a few moments for Nathan Gerbe to get open and then fired the shot his way. Gerbe took a few steps forward before launching the shot from the right faceoff dot into the net.
This play took six seconds to come to fruition. Six seconds. The Monsters wrapped up a power play in six seconds. I know some of you are pleasantly surprised by this little nugget.
At this point, Kole Sherwood turned up the heat and began running players over. He was not going to let the Phantoms score on his watch.
With 34 seconds left in the period, Sherwood laid a nice, clean, heavy hit on Conner. Mike Vecchione was not happy with Sherwood’s hit on Conner. As he was skating by, Vecchione hooked Sherwood around the waist with his stick and threw him on the ground. While Sherwood was trying to figure out what just happened, Vecchione punched him a few times. Dalpe came rushing in to save his teammate and a melee ensued among the teams.
The first period ended with two guys in the box and intensity at an all time high.
During intermission, the Phantoms hosted a wedding on the ice complete with ugly Christmas sweaters. The loving atmosphere of two people being joined in holy matrimony must have been infectious because both teams were much kinder to each other in the second period.
Both teams turned on their burners for the second. It was a high paced evenly matched period where everyone was trying to score. Only one man was able to light the lamp in the second. His name? Blake Siebenaler.
With 12:26 left in the second, Cross one-timed the puck towards Alex Lyon. The puck went just a hair wide of the net. Vitaly Abramov skated around back to pick up the puck. For just a moment, he contemplated the idea of a wrap around goal. Unsure of if the wraparound would be successful, Abramov opted to toss the puck back to Cross who saw Siebenaler open nearby. Cross passed the puck to Siebenaler who one-timed it into the net for the 2-1 lead over the Phantoms.
Within the first three minutes of the third period, the Monsters were killing a penalty. This would be worrisome if the Monsters’ pk unit wasn’t fairly on point tonight. The shining moment of this particular pk was Justin Scott’s goal attempt on a breakaway. If Lyon hadn’t been paying complete attention to the situation, the puck would have gone into the net.
A little over eight minutes into the third period, Gerbe extended the Monsters lead to 3-1 after poking home a power play goal.
Gerbe’s goal fired the Phantoms up a bit. They began attacking the net rather aggressively. The Phantoms were incredibly hungry for a goal. With 9:41 left in the game, Berube made an excellent save but the rebound ended up on Colin McDonald’s stick. He popped it into the net to put the Phantoms within one of the Monsters, 3-2.
The Phantoms turned up the heat again. They wanted to tie this game up. Mark Letestu had other ideas and scored a rebound goal to put the Monsters up 4-2 with 4:50 left.
Lyon was pulled with a little over a minute to play in the game. The Phantoms kept trying to make something happen. They even managed to stay in the Monsters’ zone for a good chunk of the final minute of play. Alas, it just wasn’t enough time for the Phantoms to get something going before the horn blew.
The Monsters took down the Phantoms,4-2, and looked good doing it. Maybe now they can use this to power them to do 12 straight wins instead of 12 straight games with an alternating outcome.
1st – Nathan Gerbe (2g, 0a)
2nd – Adam Clendening (0g, 2a)
3rd – Connor Bunnaman (1g, 0a)
The Monsters get a bit of a break before heading to Rochester on Friday, December 14th to take on the Amerks at 7pm.
After the game, both teams will hop on the bus and head to Cleveland to play at 7pm Saturday night. Since it’s “Grow the Game”, the first 5,000 kids (12 and under)will receive on free youth jersey.
This will also be the last night you can bring in a new, unwrapped toy to the game. The toys will be distributed to pre-selected non-profit organizations that serve children in Northeast Ohio.