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Cleveland Monsters struggle to adjust to shortened bench

Photo Credit : John Saraya/Cleveland Monsters

Cleveland Monsters (0) at Milwaukee Admirals (4)

The Cleveland Monsters fell to the Milwaukee Admirals, 4-0, last night. Before leaving Cleveland, the Monsters knew it was going to be an uphill battle as the Admirals are the number one team in the American Hockey League. To make matters worse, the Monsters are on the verge of being depleted due to all the injuries in Columbus.

This is what the Monsters had to work with last night : two PTOs who have never played with the team, Kole Sherwood fresh off of IR, Marko Dano who was just sent down, and Brett Gallant, Maxime Fortier, and Michael Prapavessis who have played only a handful of games. As you can see, the coaching staff had to deal with a lot of variables heading into Friday night’s game.

It took the Admirals 2:48 to get one past Matiss Kivlenieks. The play leading up to the Admirals goal highlighted how much the Monsters struggled to keep up in the first period. Adam Clendening, Brady Shaw, and Fortier tried to break up passes but the Admirals’ quick reflexes and crisp passes were too much for the Monsters.

With 10:11 left in the first period, the Admirals extended their lead over the Monsters to 2-0. Jarred Tinordi’s initial shot bounced off the backboards directly onto Rem Pitlick’s stick. Kivlenkieks rushed to cover up the left side of the net as Pitlick fired off a shot towards the net. The puck sailed through the gap between Kivlenieks’ arm and leg to give the Admirals the lead.

The Monsters first line of Nathan Gerbe, Stefan Matteau, and Trey Fix-Wolansky turned their burners on for the rest of the first in an attempt to crack Connor Ingram’s code. As time wound down on the first period, Doyle Somerby blocked a slapper with his leg and Dillon Simpson blocked a one-timer with his head. Definitely not the way a shortened bench wants to end a period.

The second period started with the Monsters killing a penalty. Since the normal cast of characters were in Columbus, the penalty kill struggled a bit. Typically the Monsters dominate the kill by spending most of their time in scoring position. Last night, the Monsters pk units struggled to enter the neutral zone.

On the flip side of special teams, the power play gave the Admirals pk a run for their money. They pick pocketed the Admirals and rushed the net while on the extra man advantage. Unfortunately, they were unable to score a goal while up a man. However, their pp was one of the best we have seen all season.

The Admirals extended their lead over the Monsters to 3-0 with 7:06 left in the second period. Clendening skated around the back of the net and passed to puck to Sam Vigneault who promptly fumbled the pass. Tommy Novak picked up the puck and tossed it over Kivlenieks’ shoulder for the goal.

At the start of the third period, Kivlenieks’ continued to skate out of the crease leaving the net wide open. There were multiple times when Kivlenieks had to rush to the open net to stop a turned over puck or fumbled pass.

The Admirals took advantage of this fact 5:50 into the third period. Anthony Richard turned on the burners which allowed him to skate past Simpson before firing the puck between Kivlenieks’ legs for the 4-0 lead. Due to the fact Kivlenieks’ had to rush to close up the net he left unattended, he was unable to close his legs in time to stop a goal from happening.

As the third period rolled on, the new lines began to gel for the Monsters. They just didn’t gel in such a way that allowed them to keep up with the number one team in the league. With the final blow of the horn, the Monsters fell to the Admirals 4-0.

3 Stars

1st - Anthony Richard (Milwaukee Admirals) - 1g, 1a
2nd - Connor Ingram (Milwaukee Admirals) - 32 saves, 32 shots faced, 59:55 TOI
3rd - Alexandre Carrier (Milwaukee Admirals) - 0g, 3a

Monsters Lines

Stefan Matteau - Nathan Gerbe - Trey Fix-Wolansky
Paul Bittner - Derek Barach - Marko Dano
Sam Vigneault - Justin Scott - Kole Sherwood
Brett Gallant - Maxime Fortier - Brady Shaw

Monsters Pairs

Anton Karlsson - Adam Clendening
Steve Johnson - Dillon Simpson
Michael Prapavessis - Doyle Somerby