Cleveland Monsters (5) at Rochester Americans (2)
The Cleveland Monsters went into last night’s game against the Rochester Americans knowing every game from now until the end of the season is a must win. This sense of importance was clear from the moment the Monsters set foot on the ice.
The bulk of the first period involved Zac Dalpe, Justin Scott, and Kole Sherwood trying to get one past Adam Wilcox. Despite their best effort, the first goal of the night would not be seen until there was 2:10 left in the first.
Tommy Cross launched a rocket from the top of the left faceoff circle. Wilcox stopped Cross’ initial shot. However, the puck flew towards Derek Barach who was lurking at the base of the left faceoff circle. Dropping to one knee, Barach fired the puck into the net to give the Monsters the 1-0 lead over the Americans.
By the time the second period rolled around, the Monsters were flying. Right off the bat, Dalpe launched a heavy-handed shot towards the net but was robbed of a goal by Wilcox.
Dalpe was finally able to crack Wilcox’s code 4:27 into the period with a deflection from Garret Cockerill’s blue line bomb. This gave the Monsters the 2-0 lead over the Americans.
C.J. Smith cut the Monsters lead in half, 2-1, with an elevated shot from the slot 12:01 into the second.
With 4:46 left in the second, Alexandre Texier got in on the fun with a beautiful rocket from near faceoff circle to give the Monsters the 3-1 lead.
Seven minutes into the third period, Victor Olofsson fired a shot past Berube to put the Americans within one of the Monsters, 3-2.
At this point in the game, the Americans became incredibly spunky and stormed the net like bumbles bees. The Monsters very strong penalty kill started to look dicey too. They were beginning to get frustrated and lose their positive energy.
Things took a turn for the worse with a little over two minutes to play. Berube stopped a soft shot with his leg and immediately dropped to the ground. The moment his blocker hit the ground everyone on the ice knew something was wrong. Tom Bourdon, team trainer for the Monsters, rushed to Berube’s side to figure out what was going on. After a few minutes, Berube was led off the ice by Letestu and Brett Gallant. In fact, Gallant helped lead Berube down the tunnel.
Knowing Brad Thiessen was coming in cold and the Monsters were rattled by losing one of their netminders, the Americans pulled Wilcox for the 6-on-5 advantage. The Americans’ strategy only made the Monsters wrap the game up as fast as possible.
Justin Scott and Letestu sealed the deal scoring empty net goals 1:36 apart from each other.
When the horn sounded the Monsters were the victors over the Americans, 5-2.
Last night’s win was the first time in quite a while that the Monsters played a full 60 minutes of hockey. They normally have two good periods and one incredibly bad period.
Heading into Saturday and Sunday’s game against the Hershey Bears, the Monsters know winning is the key to securing a spot in the 2019 playoffs.
The race in the North Division is tight right now. The breakdown is below.
4th – Belleville Senators (67 games played – 74 points)
5th – Cleveland Monsters (65 games played – 70 points)
6th – Utica Comets (67 games played – 70 points)
7th – Laval Rocket (66 games played – 66 points)
A spot in the playoffs is still possible. However, it’s going to be tough now that Berube is out. This morning the Monsters called up Matiss Kivlenieks to backup Thiessen.
Also, the Monsters hit a traffic jam on the way home from Rochester last night. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if Saturday’s game starts out a little sluggish for the Monsters.
1st – Mark Letestu (1g, 2a)
2nd – C.J. Smith (1g, 0a)
3rd – Garret Cockerill (0g, 2a)
The Monsters return home on Saturday March 23rd and Sunday March 24th to take on the Hershey Bears.
Saturday’s game is at 7pm and will be shown on SportsTime Ohio.