Cleveland Monsters (2) at Stockton Heat (6)
The Cleveland Monsters needed a win tonight. Not to make the playoffs but to prove to themselves they have the talent and skill to be a successful team. They started the game out with a pep in their step but crumbled by the start of the second period.
Once the Stockton Heat saw the crack in the wall, they moved full steam ahead smothering the Monsters every chance they got.
The Heat kicked off the scoring with 5:31 left in the first period. Hunter Shinkaruk passed the puck across the ice to Mike McMurtry who one-timed it into the net from the right faceoff dot.
Stockton extended their lead to 2-0 a little over six minutes into the second period.
Oliver Kylington fired the puck across ice to Cody Goloubef who was open along the boards. He skated down the boards for a few seconds before launching the puck behind Ivan Kulbakov.
With 9:16 left in the second period, there was a huge battle along the boards. Brett Pollock hung back a bit waiting for the puck to produce itself from the melee. Once the puck appeared, Pollock raced off down the ice with it. Colin Smith caught up with him and they went two-on-one with Kulbakov before Pollock finally fired the puck into the net. The Heat led the Monsters, 3-0.
Cleveland finally cracked Ryan Faragher’s code with 4:40 left in the second period.
Ryan Collins passed the puck across the ice to Sam Vigneault who was open at the right faceoff dot. Vigneault swept the puck topshelf to make it 3-1.
Three minutes and 37 seconds later the Heat took a commanding 4-1 lead.
Rasmus Andersson went coast to coast before toe dragging around Kulbakov to put the puck in the net. A few horrible breakdowns by the defense and the offense’s inability to keep up with the Heat led to this goal.
The Monsters needed to start the third period out with a bang to have any hope of salvaging this game.
They started things off on the right skate 1:51 into the period after a puck deflected off of Brady Austin into the net. The Heat lead over the Monsters was now cut in half, 4-2.
Cleveland held strong for most of the third period.
Once Coach John Madden pulled Kulbakov for the extra attacker things went downhill. There were constant defensive breakdowns and the offense couldn’t keep the puck on their stick.
With 2:42 left in the game, Mike McMurtry launched the puck from center ice into the empty net.
A turnover by Zac Dalpe led Ryan Lomberg to score on the empty net two minutes later.
The Heat skated away from this game winners. While the Monsters shook their heads wondering what went wrong.
But Wait! There’s More
- We didn’t get a to see the new lines much during the game. The special teams were constantly out on the ice. There may have been new lines but the same power play and penalty kill units made an appearance. Coach John Madden rolled with the top unit for most the night. Which means they were all exhausted by the time the third period rolled around.
- Without Zac Dalpe and Alex Broadhurst, you really notice how many turnovers Terry Broadhurst makes a shift. He has been rusty since trade deadline. It’s also a little bothersome that he is unable to play well with anyone but Dalpe, Carter Camper, and his brother.
- Sam Vigneault has done a bang up job during the road trip. Tonight he shone bright as he notched one goal and one assist. Vigneault helped keep the Monsters in the game.
- Miles Koules never ceases to amaze me. I’m constantly in awe of the way he reads the ice and can quickly figure out all the outcomes of each situation.
1st – Mike McMurtry (2g, 1a)
2nd – Ryan Faragher (36 shots faced, 34 saves, 59:34 TOI)
3rd – Sam Vigneault (1g, 1a)
Alex Broadhurst, Nathan Gerbe, and Zac Dalpe wore the “A” again tonight.
The Monsters head to Ontario to take on the Reign on March 14th at 10 pm est.
They finally leave California on March 16th but only to head to Texas where they will play the Stars.
The trip finally ends on St. Patricks day against the San Antonio Rampage.