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Cleveland Monsters made it rain bears but not goals

Calvin Thurkauf cleans up bears after Dillon Simpson scored the first Monsters’ goal of the night (12.14.2019 vs WBS Penguins at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse)
Photo Credit: John Saraya/Cleveland Monsters

Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins (3) at Cleveland Monsters (1)

After scoring four goals on Friday, the Cleveland Monsters struggled to put points on the board Saturday night against the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. “Well it wasn’t from lack of effort,” Head Coach Mike Eaves said during post game. The Monsters put up 28 shots compared to the Penguins’ 29. They had many quality chances but the Monsters couldn’t get Dustin Tokarski to break. “We had a brief gathering in the room after and just talked about the fact that it is always disappointing and hurts when you play as hard as we did tonight and you don’t get rewarded,” explained Coach Eaves.

Going into last night’s tilt, the Penguins were on a five-game winless streak. With their parent club on the mend, many key players have been in Pittsburgh helping fill in where needed. Yet, they still have many solid players like Andrew Agozzino, Anthony Angello, and Andreas Martinsen to help them along. Keeping that in mind, you could see why the Penguins were amped up after getting shutout by the Monsters on Friday night. “That was a very desperate team over there. They haven’t won in five and they have a good team,” said Coach Eaves of the Penguins, “They fought. We fought. They solved the riddle tonight.”

The Monsters came in to last night’s game with a bit more pressure to score a goal as it was the annual “Chuck-A-Bear” game. The time honored tradition involves throwing stuffed animals on the ice after the home team scores their first goal of the night. In Cleveland, if the Monsters don’t score a goal by the end of the second, fans toss teddies during the second intermission. Anti-climactic, huh? Luckily fans didn’t have to wait until the second intermission to throw their bears on the ice. It got close though. A little too close.

The Penguins were the first to score with 10:58 left in the first period. It was quite the unfortunate goal for the Monsters. Angello picked up his own rebound and pushed the puck through Veini Vehvilainen’s pad. As the puck slows down, Vehvilainen knocks it over the goal line with his skate.

Despite some heavy handed shots from Adam Clendening and Dillon Simpson paired with Marko Dano’s aggressive screening of Tokarski, the Monsters were unable to unleash the bears during the first period. It probably didn’t help that Monsters had many sloppy no look and drop back passes. Many times players were either not ready for a pass or they were tangled up with an opponent when the puck came their way.

When the second period rolled around fans were on the edge of their seats waiting for a goal to be scored. They wanted to toss bears on the ice more than anything in the world. Unfortunately for Monsters fans, the Penguins were the next ones to score. Angello sniped the puck topshelf from the top of the left faceoff circle for the 2-0 lead over the Monsters with 11:20 left in the second period.

With each shot Tokarski stuffed, fans let our exasperated sighs and shuffled in their seats. One man near press row repeatedly stretched his throwing arm in anticipation of the Monsters’ first goal.

Simpson ended up being the hero everyone needed. With 5:34 left in the second period, he one-timed a shot from near the faceoff circle into the back of the net to cut the Penguins lead in half. Almost immediately 8,627 bears fell from all corners of the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Sharks, Unicorns, Bears, all types of animals rained down onto the ice around players and staff.

Captain Nathan Gerbe was spotted doing trick shots with stuffed sharks. While Clendening was handing off stuffed bears to a little girl who was helping put bears into bags to be counted later. Nothing beats the excitement on staff members faces as they made snow angels in a sea of stuffed animals.

Unleashing the bears from the stands quickly changed the energy of the game. The Monsters were on a mission to take home a win. Unfortunately, for the Monsters, the Penguins matched their intensity making it extremely difficult to pull off any sort of positive play.

With 51 seconds left in the game, a pass from Gerbe to Clendening was picked off by Thomas Di Pauli. Clendening desperately tried to steal the puck back. DI Pauli was able to skate a hair faster than Clendening which allowed him a bit of space to launch the puck into the empty net for the 3-1 win over Cleveland.

3 Stars

1st - Anthony Angello (Wilkes-Barre Scranton) - 2g, 0a
2nd - Kevin Czuczman (Wilkes-Barre Scranton) - 0g, 2a
3rd - Dillon Simpson (Cleveland Monsters) - 1g, 0a

Monsters Lines

Nathan Gerbe - Kevin Stenlund - Markus Hannikainen
Stefan Matteau - Ryan MacInnis - Marko Dano
Jakob Lilja - Justin Scott - Calvin Thurkauf
Paul Bittner - Derek Barach - Trey Fix-Wolansky

Monsters Pairs

Gabriel Carlsson - Adam Clendening
Dillon Simpson - Jason Binkley
Anton Karlsson - Doyle Somerby