Hershey Bears (1) at Cleveland Monsters (4)
Coming into tonight’s game against the Hershey Bears, the Cleveland Monsters knew what was on the line. If they win, they leap the Belleville Senators in the standings. If they lose, they have to work that much harder to finish the season on a strong note.
Since the Monsters were playing their third game in three days, it’s no surprise the first period was a bit of a struggle for them.
“We were kind of sleepy out there. We were bending but we weren’t breaking. Theissen was coming up with saves.” – Head Coach John Madden
The Monsters came out in the second period with an abundance of energy.
Almost four minutes into the second, Tommy Cross scored a power play goal from below the blue line to put the Monsters on the board first.
Shortly after Cross’ goal, the Monsters had another man advantage. Typically, multiple power plays by the Monsters would leave people with quite an uneasy feeling. This afternoon was not the case. The Monsters dominated the power play firing off multiple shots and consistently maintained control of the puck.
“They’ve played a little bit more simplified. A lot of shots. A little more traffic. Snapping around making real quality plays rather than low percentage plays. A little luck too.” – Head Coach John Madden
With 3:15 left in the second period, the Monsters extended their lead over the Bears to 2-0. Sam Vigneault tossed the puck from the corner to Ryan MacInnis who was barreling down the ice towards the net. MacInnis fired a point-blank shot at Vitek Vanecek. The puck bounced off Vanecek’s pads and rolled out of the crease. Vigneault rushed to the puck and slammed it into the net before Vanecek even knew what was going on.
After Vigneault’s goal, the fans in section 100 began to chant “We want playoffs!!!” You could feel the energy rising in Quicken Loans Arena.
Almost three minutes into the third period, Maximillian Kammerer cut the Monsters lead in half with a backhanded beauty past Brad Thiessen.
Despite the fact the Bears were closing in on the Monsters, the fans energy remained excited even verging on insane at one point.
The fans went absolutely nuts with 9:50 left in the third period when Alexandre Texier scored on a breakaway. This goal helped power the Monsters for the rest of the period.
“So far it seems like he has a little bit of a knack for scoring big goals. That goal tonight to make it 3-1 was huge. He went in and buried it.” – Head Coach John Madden
With 1:20 left in the game, Zac Dalpe stuck a fork in the Bears with an empty net goal to make it 4-1.
As time wound down, the Monsters held onto the puck. Normally they would try to go for another empty netter. However, this game was too important to risk a turnover or misstep. They knew what was at stake and they wanted it ever so badly.
When the horn sounded, it was official. The Monsters claimed fourth place in the North division.
1st – Sam Vigneault (1g, 0a)
2nd – Brad Thiessen (39 shots faced, 38 saves, 60:00 TOI)
3rd – Tommy Cross (1g, 0a)
The Monsters have a week off before meeting the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Quicken Loans Arena on Friday March 29th at 7pm.