Charlotte Checkers (3) at Cleveland Monsters (1)
The Cleveland Monsters fell to the Charlotte Checkers, 3-1, for the second game in a row. This time the Monsters fielded a full bench complete with two new PTOs and a familiar face playing back up goalie, Brad Thiessen.
While Thiessen didn’t see the ice tonight, it was still a big change for the team and himself to be suited up. “Now, he has to get ready to be a goaltender again. I could tell all day he was getting to that,” explained Coach Eaves, “We lose a coach but we gain a veteran goalie.”
One of the new PTOs, Dan DeSalvo, is no stranger to the Monsters lineup. DeSalvo wore the Cleveland sweater for 50 games during the 2018-19 season. So, his transition to the lineup was rather smooth. “He played quite well for us,” Coach Eaves said fondly of DeSalvo, “As you can see, he has some puck sense. Sometimes when you bring young men up, the pace of the game here, at the American Hockey League level, is a bit quicker. I thought he handled it pretty well.”
DeSalvo, Abbott Gorduckis, Steve Johnson, and Brady Shaw have assimilated to the lineup quite well since signing their PTOs. This has helped communication immensely between the lines and pairs. Coach Eaves noted this assimilation happens because “ experienced players know that (communication) is a big piece of what you need to do with new people.” Which is why the Monsters had a far better start to this game than the last.
Both Kole Sherwood and Brett Gallant laid heavy hits in the first 3:30 of the game to prevent plays from forming.
Sherwood’s came in the corner to the left of Vehvilainen 1:30 into the game. The Checkers were putting themselves into scoring position while one of them tried to distract Vehvilainen by skating around the back of the net. Sherwood saw him and quickly slammed him into the board. This caused the puck to be fumbled and the play to head up the ice.
Gallant’s hit happened at center ice 3:15 into the first period. Initially Gallant tried to poke check the puck away from one of the Checkers. When he wouldn’t cough up the puck, Gallant knocked him to the ice causing the pass to be intercepted by one of the Monsters.
The Checkers were able to get one past Veini Vehvilainen 9:16 into the game. Vehvilainen was able to stop Julie Gauthier’s initial shot. However, with no one around to help Vehvilainen, Max McCormick was able to scoop the rebound into the net for the 1-0 lead.
The Monsters struggled with passes and forming plays for the bulk of the first period. The defense seemed to be a out of position a few times. Which allowed the Checkers to capitalize on their shot chances.
Things started to click a bit better for the Monsters as the second period rolled around. “After the first period, the chatter on the bench was more fluid and we were able to get that going a little bit,” noted Coach Eaves.
The Monsters tied the game up 3:17 into the second period. Trey Fix-Wolansky picked the puck off the wall and passed it over to Adam Clendening who one timed it towards the net. Anton Forsberg stopped the initial shot but Derek Barach was there to slam home the rebound.
If it wasn’t for Forsberg putting on a show, the Monsters would have scored twice over the next few minutes.
Things heated up both physically and skill wise in the third period. The two teams traded taking the puck down the ice multiple times during the first half of the final stanza of play. It was quite obvious they both wanted to break the tie.
Oliwer Kaski broke the tie for the Checkers 9:50 into the third with a beautiful snipe near the slot.
The Monsters were able to match the Checkers intensity and momentum for the rest of the game. Unfortunately, an empty net goal by David Gust with 52.4 seconds to play sealed the 3-1 win for the Checkers.
Coach Eaves felt a lot better about this afternoon’s game than Saturday night’s game. “I thought that we were more competitive, we had more scoring chances,” Coach Eaves explained. Even though Eaves felt the play was better, it was still disappointing to lose. “It’s still frustrating because we didn’t get the result that we wanted,” stated Coach Eaves.
Up next for the Monsters is a 3pm tilt against the Marlies in Toronto on New Year’s Eve.
1st - Oliwer Kaski (Charlotte Checkers) - 1g, 0a
2nd - Steven Lorentz (Charlotte Checkers) - 0g, 2a
3rd - Derek Barach (Cleveland Monsters) - 1g, 0a
Stefan Matteau - Derek Brach _ Try Fix-Wolansky
Kole Sherwood - Justin Scott - Dan DeSalvo
Paul Bittner - Sam Vigneault - Abbott Girduckis
Brett Gallant - Maxime Fortier - Brady Shaw
Anton Karlsson - Adam Clendening
Steven Johnson - Dillon Simpson
Michael Prapavessis - Doyle Somerby