Cleveland Monsters (4) at Toronto Marlies (1)
The Cleveland Monsters finished 2019 on a positive note with a 4-1 win over the Toronto Marlies. Winning has been a result the Monsters have been looking for the past few games. Head Coach Mike Eaves felt the process which led to the win was just as good as yesterday afternoon’s process stating, “I felt the process was similar to last night except we found ways to score tonight. It makes a big difference in the game.” Coach went on to explain why focusing on the process is a bit more important than focusing on the result. “I think sometimes when you focus just on the result you get all discombobulated. You press and you try too hard,” explained Coach Eaves, “When you focus on the process and the parts you need to do, I think you’ll get the results when you do that more times than not.”
In an out of character move for Coach Eaves, Veini Vehvilainen started for the second night in a row. Typically, Eaves likes to rotate netminders. However, with Matiss Kivlenieks in Columbus and Brad Thiessen adjusting to his role back at goaltender, the best option for tonight was to have Vehvilainen start in net. He handled the back-to-back start with poise and confidence stopping 28 of the 29 shots he faced. Coach Eaves touched on Vehvilainen’s confidence saying, “He was in control and aggressive with his play in the crease.” Eaves also made note of what a confident goaltender does for a team. “When a goalie plays like that there is a confidence feeling with the people in front of him.”
The Monsters first goal came 13:20 into the first period courtesy of Paul Bittner. Dillon Simpson banked a puck off the board which Bittner quickly swooped down upon. He then took off with the puck before releasing a shot from the faceoff dot for the goal. “He’s a long body and can change the angle of a shot as a shooter. He had a hell of a shot there,” Coach Eaves said about Bittner’s ability to turn shots into goals.
Bittner’s goal came around three minutes after he left the box. So, this was a redemption goal. Coach Eaves gave a quick explanation of what goes through a player’s mind after taking a penalty, “The first thought is ‘Please don’t score on this power play’. Then, the next thing is ‘It’s my next best shift’. That’s kind of the battle called.”
Kenny Agostino tied the game at one for the Marlies with 10:34 left in the second. Timothy Liljegren sent Agostino a heavy handed pass. Upon receiving said pass, Agostino skated a bit until he saw a clear shot to the net.
Both of the Monsters special teams got a work out in the second period. Despite not being able to score a goal, the power play was quite dominate and barely let the Marlies into the neutral zone. When Dan DeSalvo took a penalty late in the period, the penalty kill struggled as he is one of their best killers.
The third period was a fun one for the Monsters. They scored three unanswered goals to take home the 4-1 win.
Justin Scott broke the tie 6:23 into the third period with a wicked shot from below the blue line. He tried every way possible to score a goal leading up to that point. So, when Scott finally scored the energy on the ice was off the charts. The team started moving and grooving even more than they already were during the game.
With 7:59 left in the game, Kole Sherwood extended the Monsters lead to 3-1. It was a beauty of a shot from the corner just above the goal line. Somehow it flew into the side of the net.
The first few games of Sherwood’s return from injury were a bit shaky. Tonight shed light on what a healthy Sherwood can bring to the lineup. Coach Eaves made it a point to note how important it is to have him back again stating, “Our young guys look for him to see how he plays. If he’s going and skating and doing the things he does, then he’s a big factor for us.”
With 51.5 seconds to play, Scott sealed the win with his second goal of the night on an empty net. Since taking on more of a leadership role on the team, Scott has been nothing but consistent. He has stepped up night after night and worked hard to get the Monsters a win. The proof is in the way Scott played tonight. His unrelenting work ethic and hunger truly took the Monsters to the next level tonight.
Next up for the Monsters is a back-to-back home stand against the Milwaukee Admirals on Friday, January 3rd (4pm) and Saturday, January 4th (1pm).
1st - Justin Scott (Cleveland Monsters) - 2g, 0a
2nd - Veini Vehvilainen (Cleveland Monsters) - 28 saves, 29 shots faced, 59:29 TOI
3rd - Paul Bittner (Cleveland Monsters) - 1g, 0a
Stefan Matteau - Derek Barach - Trey Fix-Wolansky
Kole Sherwood - Justin Scott - Dan DeSalvo
Paul Bittner - Sam Vigneault - Abbott Girduckis
Brett Gallant - Maxime Fortier - Brady Shaw
Anton Karlsson - Adam Clendening
Steve Johnson - Dillon Simpson
Michael Prapavessis - Doyle Somerby