Cleveland Monsters (2) at Charlotte Checkers (5)
The Cleveland Monsters fell to the Charlotte Checkers, 5-2, on Wednesday night. Both of the Monsters tallies were power play goals. Despite the loss, the two power play goals are impressive as the Checkers are first in the American Hockey League on the penalty kill.
Within the first minute and a half of the game, the Monsters went on the two-man disadvantage. The Checkers were able to take advantage of the Monsters’ plight and scored 2:56 into the game when Kyle Wood one-timed a pass from Jake Bean into the net.
A little under four minutes into the game, Matiss Kivlenieks and the net were knocked off their axis. As David Gust powered towards the net, he cut around Doyle Somerby, tripped over the air, and flew into the net. This shook Kivlenieks up a bit and he was unable to calm down for a few minutes.
Unfortunately, it took the Checkers scoring again to help him regain composure. Janne Kuokkanen slapped the puck into the net from the top of the faceoff circle 5”54 into the first period to give the Checkers the 2-0 lead over the Monsters.
While on the power play with 9:46 to play in the first, Adam Clendening launched a shot down the slot and into the net to cut the Checkers lead in half, 2-1. This was only the fourth shot Alex Nedeljkovic had seen. The Checkers were doing a great job of preventing the Monsters from getting anywhere near the net.
With 4:55 left in the first, Kivlenieks made quite the save to prevent Max McCormick from scoring. After the whistle had blown, Kivlenieks’ took McCormick’s stick to the back of the head. While he laid on the ground collecting himself, the rest of the Monsters grabbed a dance partner. The best part of the kerfuffle was watching alternate captain Dillon Simpson pick someone up and move them away from Kivlenieks before dumping them on the ice.
The aggressive nature of play continued throughout the rest of the first period until it finally boiled over with one second left in the period. While heading to the bench, Marko Dano laid a hit shortly after the whistle blew. Brian Gibbons was quite unhappy with what happened to his teammate. As Dano was going to climb into the bench, Gibbons slammed him into the boards. A scuffle between both lines ensued. Gibbons could barely be contained as the refs brought him to the box. In the end, Gibbons ended up racking up 24 minutes worth of penalties and being booted from the game.
This altercation gave the Monsters the man-advantage for the first 3:59 of the second period. As time ran out on the Monsters power play,Jakob Lilja scored the equalizer when he pushed the puck through Nedeljkovic’s pads.
The Checkers took the 3-2 lead with 9:52 left in the second period when Julian Gauthier stole the puck from Simpson before going one-on-one with Kivlenieks. This wasn’t the first time a member of the Checkers stole a puck from the Monsters. All night long multiple passes and plays were broken up by them.
Jake Bean spent the entire game getting under the skin of the Monsters. He continued to break up plays, skate around the defense like they were traffic cones, and was a master in the corners. Bean’s ability to fluster the Monsters led to his goal with 3:44 left in the second period.
After Bean’s goal, the Monsters struggled to get the puck out of the neutral zone. Nothing they did was a match for the Checkers’ defense.
Much like the first two periods, the Monsters struggled to maintain control of momentum in the third period. On the plus side, they were able to hold the Checkers to seven shots in the third.
Steven Lorentz delivered the final blow with 3:40 left in the game. Lorentz was alone at the bottom of the faceoff circle when he received the puck from Roland McKeown. Quickly, he fired the puck into the net to give the Checkers the 5-2 lead over the Monsters. Kivlenieks wasn’t ready for the shot and had to dive to try to stop it.
Despite having a commanding lead over the Checkers, McCormick decided to aggressively whack Andrew Peeke across the back with his stick. Then, he proceeded to punch Justin Scott in the face. A huge melee broke out and it took the refs exponentially longer than the amount of time left on the clock to sort things out.
Once the action started back up again, the Monsters tried their hardest to get a few more past Nedeljkovic. In the end, the Checkers’ defense was too strong for the Monsters to get past.
1st - Jake Bean (Charlotte Checkers) - 1g, 1a
2nd - Julie Gauthier (Charlotte Checkers) - 1g, 0a
3rd - Steven Lorentz (Charlotte Checkers) - 1g, 1a
Nathan Gerbe - Kevin Stenlund - Stefan Matteau
Jakob Lilja - Ryan MacInnis - Marko Dano
Sam Vigneault - Justin Scott - Markus Hannikainen
Calvin Thurkauf - Derek Barach - Paul Bittner
Gabriel Carlsson - Adam Clendening
Dillon Simpson - Andrew Peeke
Anton Karlsson - Doyle Somerbyo