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Cleveland Monsters run out of steam in shutout loss to Laval Rocket

Photo Credit: John Saraya/Cleveland Monsters

Laval Rocket (4) at Cleveland Monsters (0)

The Cleveland Monsters fell to the Laval Rocket, 4-0, for the second night in a row.

Veini Vehvilainen allowed only two of the four goals that the Rocket score. The other two were scored on an empty net in the final three minutes of the game.

Head Coach Mike Eaves has been alternating goalies all season long. So, not starting Elvis Merzlikins two games in a row was not a surprise.

“It’s kind of been working for us before Elvis got here and he played very well last night. So, I don’t know if that’s going to continue. We’ll go by that game by game” - Head Coach Mike Eaves

However, according to Head Coach Mike Eaves, Merzlikins was slated to be between the pipes two nights in a row. Due to an aggressive game on Friday, the Monsters opted to start Vehvilainen over Merzlikins.

“When Elvis came down it was a little bit of a dictation by the parent club. They wanted him to play. I think he would have played tonight. I think he had a little bit of a minor set back last night and they just wanted to make sure” - Head Coach Mike Eaves

It was a good thing the Monsters gave Merzlikins the break as the game was incredibly physical. Over the course of the game, 17 penalties were handed out totaling 64 minutes. Three of those penalties were 10 minute misconducts. The one fight on record between Justin Scott and Antoine Waked doesn’t show the amount of scuffles, aggressive hugging, and shoving which happened after almost every play.

In post game presser, Head Coach Mike Eaves made sure to remind us physicality is the nature of the beast in the American Hockey League.

“So, the one thing about our league, especially our division, you have to have your hard hat on every night or you’re going to have it handed to you. “ - Head Coach Mike Eaves

The Monsters struggled to make anything work during the game. Their passes were not as crisp and clean as normal. This allowed the Rocket to steal the puck and create deadly plays which kept Vehvilainen on his toes. The defense struggled to pick up rebounds which allowed the Rocket to maintain momentum. Also, the forwards lofted a lot of soft and easy to catch shots on net.

Coach Eaves believes part of the Monsters struggles were due to playing five games in eight days.

“As we told the boys, sometimes when you play five (games) in eight (days) you run into an energy problem. We stuck our nose in there and continued to compete all the way until the end. Just didn’t have enough in the tank.” - Head Coach Mike Eaves

Despite getting outscored by the Rocket 6-1 in the past two games, Head Coach Mike Eaves expects the Monsters to bounce back from these losses.

“This is a really competitive group. This hurts their pride and so I expect them to respond really well because of who they are” - Head Coach Mike Eaves

Next up for the Monsters is a much needed day off on Sunday, practice Monday, and a midweek game against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Tuesday night. Due to the physical past of the two teams, it will be imperative for the Monsters to get as much rest as possible leading up to Tuesday night’s game.

3 Stars

1st - Charlie Lindgren (Laval Rocket) - 25 saves, 25 shots faced, 59:43 TOI
2nd - Kevin Lynch (Laval Rocket) - 1g, 0a
3rd - Matthew Peca (Laval Rocket) - 1g, 0a

Monsters Lines

Marko Dano - Nathan Gerbe- Stefan Matteau
Eric Robinson - Zac Dalpe - Markus Hannikainen
Sam Vigneault - Justin Scott - Jakob Lilja
Calvin Thurkauf - Ryan MacInnis - Paul Bittner

Monsters Pairs

Gabriel Carlsson - Ryan Collins
Dillon Simpson - Andrew Peeke
Anton Karlsson - Doyle Somerby