Syracuse Crunch (2) at Cleveland Monsters (1)
The Cleveland Monsters came home to play the Syracuse Crunch in front of over 11,000 fans tonight. Fans were buzzing with excitement as they streamed into the newly renovated Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. For many, this was their first glimpse of all the arena has to offer both on and off the ice.
This wasn’t just the fans first time in the arena. Tonight was the first time Head Coach Mike Eaves had a chance to experience the newly renovated arena and the ever so passionate Cleveland fans. Simply put, Coach Eaves was blown away by the look and feel of the arena.
“This is big time. The energy in the building was good. This is not a normal American Hockey League rink. It’s a fun environment to play in.” - Cleveland Monsters Head Coach Mike Eaves
As Coach Eaves said, there was a lot of good energy in the building. The Monsters played to the fans. For every action, there was a reaction and it was clear the players enjoyed every minute of it.
Within the first three minutes of the game, Kole Sherwood and Stefan Matteau began frustrating the Crunch. Matteau laid multiple fast and heavy hits along the boards. While, Sherwood poked pucks away and jostled a few players around.
The Monsters kept the show going as Marko Dano, Kevin Stenlund, and Nathan Gerbe got into quite the scuffle with 13:32 to play in the first. Fans cheered as Dano began to tussle with a Crunch player whose jersey number no one could quite make out. As the name and number became easier to read, many fans faces contorted into confusion. The player Dano was trying to fight was former fan favorite whom everyone still loves and supports, Cameron Gaunce. It’s a good thing the refs quickly shut down that fight or else Monsters’ fans heads may have exploded.
Gaunce would go on to set up Alex Barre-Boulet’s goal halfway through the first period to give the Crunch the 1-0 lead over the Monsters.
After Barre-Boulet’s goal, Trey Fix-Wolansky spent most of the period setting Eric Robinson up with goals that never came to fruition.
The Crunch scored their second goal of the night 1:24 into the second period. Cal Foote received a pass from between Sherwood’s legs. Then, quickly tossed it towards the right faceoff dot where Ross Colton was waiting. Colton threw the puck to Peter Abbandonato who popped the puck into the net from the left side of the crease.
Despite being down 2-0, the Monsters kept their energy up and began to go hard in the paint. The intensity the Monsters brought to the game began to bother the Crunch.
With 9:20 left in the second, tensions began to boil over when Mitchell Stephens slashed Kevin Stenlund behind the net. Instead of slashing him back, Stenlund looked at Stephens and challenged him to an aggressive shoving match. Next thing you knew everyone on the ice, sans goalies, was behind the net. The scuffle quickly came to a close when Zac Dalpe said enough was enough and punched his partner in the face.
In true Cleveland fashion, the fans loudly booed when Dalpe was assessed a roughing minor.
With 7:01 left in the second, the Monsters cut the Crunch lead in half, 2-1. Adam Clendening fired off a shot from the faceoff dot that hit Sam Vigneault and trickled through Wedgewood’s five-hole.
As time wound down on the second period, the Monsters worked hard to find ways to tie the game. No one was able to get the puck past Wedgewood. However, Calvin Thurkauf had the most beautiful attempt of the night. He raced down the ice along the boards with the puck. Then, proceeded to skate through traffic and get roughed up a bit before taking a shot at the net. The best part of the sequence was the way Thurkauf never gave up trying to get to the net. Nothing was going to stop him from firing off a shot.
The third period was full of great save after save from Matiss Kivlenieks who had 22 saves on the night.
“I thought he played good. He didn’t have a tremendous amount of work but there were times he had to come up with big saves.” - Head Coach Mike Eaves
Vigneault also shined bright during the final stanza of play. He zipped around the ice laying hits like a mad man and setting up plays like a wizard.
In the end, the Monsters couldn’t convert their abundance amount of energy into goals. The Crunch won the battle tonight but it’s still up in the air on if they will win the war for the weekend series.
1st - Peter Abbandonato (Syracuse Crunch) - 1g, 0a
2nd - Scott Wedgewood (Syracuse Crunch) - 31 saves, 32 shots faced, 60:00 TOI
3rd - Sam Vigneault (Cleveland Monsters) - 1g, 0a
The Monsters and Crunch battle it out again on Saturday, October 12th at 7pm .