Laval Rocket (2) at Cleveland Monsters (1)
The Cleveland Monsters saw their five game win streak and six game point streak come to an end last night against the Laval Rocket, 2-1.
The last time the Monsters scored under two goals was a shutout loss to the Toronto Marlies on October 19th, 2019. Their lack of scoring was not due to lack of shooting though. Cayden Primeau answered the call and stopped 24 of the Monsters’ 25 shots on goal.
“Well every other night we won, I don’t mean to be sarcastic, we scored more goals. We didn’t find a way tonight. I think that we had opportunities.” - Head Coach Mike Eaves
Elvis Merzlikins made his Cleveland debut between the pipes last night. In the first five minutes of the game, Merzlikins denied three shots which could have easily been goals. He snatched each puck out of the air with ease.
Even though the Monsters didn’t get on the board in the first period, the offense created plays which allowed Merzlikins to focus on guarding the net instead of playing defense. One of those plays involved a quick-thinking poke check from Ryan MacInnis with 13:30 left in the first period.
Xavier Ouellet received a Monsters turnover while skating out of the neutral zone. MacInnis stopped on a dime when he saw Ouellet with the puck. Without hesitation, MacInnis poked the puck away from Ouellet before he could take off down the ice. There was an open lane to the net in front of Ouellet. If MacInnis didn’t make the poke check, Merzlikins would have been forced to go one-on-one with a player who knows how to score on a breakaway.
The Rocket were the first on the board 3:30 into the second period. Ouellet grabbed the puck from behind Primeau while the forwards took off towards the Monsters defensive zone. He launched the puck from the faceoff dot located on Primeau’s right all the way down to the faceoff circle to Merzlikins’ left. Not realizing Lukas Vejdemo was hot on his trail, Doyle Somerby slowed down to scoop up the puck. Vejdemo slapped the puck over to Alexandre Alain a microsecond before Somerby could clear it out of the zone. Alain was left unattended which allowed him to pop the puck into the corner of the net for the 1-0 lead.
Vejdemo’s hard work was a key part to this goal. If he didn’t track the puck properly, Vejdemo would not have gotten to the puck in time to steal it away from Somerby. The goal never would have happened without his tracking abilities and hustle. This wasn’t the only time Vejdemo was a thorn in the side of the Monsters. He spent all night turning stolen pucks into goal attempts. It’s likely the reason why Vejdemo earned the “hardest worker hat” from his team after the game.
The Monsters were able to tie the game at one with 1:59 left in the second. Calvin Thurkauf picked a puck off the wall and quickly passed it between Karl Alzner’s leg. Paul Bittner one timed the puck into the net for equalizer goal.
A little over six minutes into the third period, Anton Karlsson made a quick defensive decision to mirror Elvis Merzlikins. This play by Karlsson helped keep the puck out of the net. With Justin Scott on the ground & Alexandre Alain poking the puck, the Rocket could have easily scored. Karlsson was able to close the gap and give Merzlikins relief.
Head Coach Mike Eaves was impressed with what Karlsson has brought to the past few games. He consistently acted as an extension of the netminder. As well as, created a barrier between the opposition and the crease.
“Well, that’s Anton’s game. He loves to eat pucks and play defensive. That’s what he makes his reputation on. He does a good job of that for us” - Head Coach Mike Eaves
Both the Rocket and Monsters turned up heat as the clock wound down. Play after play was made in an attempt to break the tie. Halfway through the period, the Rocket completed their goal scoring task when the puck trickled into the net after a lofted shot from Josh Brook.
Despite their best efforts, the Monsters couldn’t crack the Rocket’s code and fell to the Rocket, 2-1.
“Sometimes you don’t solve the riddle. Every game is a different riddle and you find the answer. Tonight, we didn’t find the answer to that riddle” - Head Coach Mike Eaves
The Monsters have another chance at solving the Rocket’s riddle on Saturday night at 7pm.
1st - Josh Brook (Laval Rocket) - 1g, 0a
2nd - Alexandre Alain (Laval Rocket) - 1g, 0a
3rd - Paul Bittner (Cleveland Monsters) - 1g, 0a
Stefan Matteau - Nathan Gerbe - Kevin Stenlund
Eric Robinson - Zac Dalpe - Markus Hannikainen
Sam Vigneault - Justin Scott - Jakob Lilja
Calvin Thurkauf - Ryan MacInnis - Paul Bittner
*Coach Eaves broke up the Karlsson/Carlsson pairing in the first period. Karlsson ended the night playing with Somerby. While, Carlsson was paired with Collins.
Gabriel Carlsson - Anton Karlsson
Dillon Simpson - Andrew Peeke
Ryan Collins - Doyle Somerby