Heading into this weekend’s series against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Cleveland Monsters knew what was at stake. The Monsters had to take at least three of four possible points to maintain control of their playoff destiny.
Friday night’s game went very well for the Monsters as they took down the Phantoms, 6-3.
Zac Dalpe and the Monsters struck first 3:29 into the game.
From the defensive blue line, Adam Clendening passed the puck to Dillon Simpson who was waiting across the ice. Simpson took off down the left side of the ice quickly stopping near the faceoff circle. As ice flew in the air from his quick stop, Simpson threw the puck over to Dalpe who launched the puck from the left faceoff circle passed Mike McKenna.
The Phantoms tied the game 36 seconds later. Byron Froese pushed Mark Letestu off the puck and then fired it into the net for the goal.
With 3:45 left in the first, Carsen Twarynski broke away from the pack fired the puck off of Brad Thiessen’s arm to give the Phantoms the 2-1 lead over the Monsters.
Dalpe was not particularly please with the fact the Monsters were down a goal for the Phantoms. So, Dalpe did what he does best; scored a goal.
Clendening fired a shot off from the blue line which Dalpe redirected from the right faceoff circle into the net for the tying goal, 2-2.
The Monsters dominated the second period scoring three goals and allowing one.
Almost five and a half minutes into the second, Dalpe earned a hat trick after lofting the puck from the right faceoff circle into the corner of the net.
Dalpe’s third goal of the night set the Monsters ablaze. They were hungry for more goals and set forth to make it happen. The Phantoms turned up the heat in an attempt to stop the Monsters. However, around eight minutes later, Kevin Stenlund extended the Monsters lead to 4-2 with a breakaway goal.
With 4:40 left in the second, the Phantoms scored their third and final goal of the evening. Cole Bardreau intercepted the puck near the red line and quickly passed it off to Colin McDonald. From below the right faceoff dot, McDonald launched the puck into the net knocking Thiessen’s water bottle into the air.
Not even a minute later, Brett Gallant joined the scoring fun for the Monsters. Sam Vigneault tossed the puck off to Gallant who was skating through the slot. Instead of firing straight down the middle, Gallant skated to the right and backhanded the puck past McKenna’s arm.
At this point, there was no stopping the Monsters. They were fired up and ready to finish the night strong.
Derek Barach sealed the deal for the Monsters 3:45 into the third period with a saucy little one-timer from the left faceoff circle.
There was no recovery for the Phantoms. They tried to come back from their three-goal deficit but were foiled every step of the way. In the end, the Monsters were too quick and strong for them. When the horn blew, the Monsters skated away with the 6-3 win.
Saturday night held a slightly different tone for the Monsters.
Things did not start out the way the Monsters planned. They won big the night before and hoped to keep the positive momentum going. The Phantoms slept well on Friday night and it showed as they dominated much of the first period.
Almost three minutes into the game, Froese put the Phantoms on the board first. He flew up the left side of the ice before firing the puck past Thiessen’s glove.
The Phantoms extended their lead to 2-0 with 7:43 left in the first. Doyle Somerby did a great job of foiling Chris Conner’s breakaway. However, Ryan Colling was unable to keep Pascal Laberge from shooting. Thiessen wasn’t set and the puck flew threw his five-hole.
After those two unfortunate goals, Thiessen transformed from “New Pads Brad” to “Brick wall Brad”.
“He’s a veteran goalie. He’s the type of guy, if you him in there, he’ll figure it out. He did that. We didn’t really give much up after that. When we did, he made some great saves. There’s no issue with Thiessen’s start. He just had a little bit of a slow one,” – Head Coach John Madden
Once Thiessen calmed down, the Monsters started to click again.
Forty seconds into the second period, Dalpe put the Monsters on the board, 2-1. He fired the puck from the faceoff circle under Friedman and through Alex Lyon’s five-hole.
Not long after Dalpe’s goal, the Monsters attacked the net with the fury of a thousand wasps. Lyon could not be shaken from this game and was able to stop the puck before it crossed the goal.
Around the halfway mark of the second, Kole Sherwood skated around the back of the net and passed the puck to Derek Barach who fired it into the net. The refs quickly called the goal off due to “Incidental Contact”. Right before Barach received the puck, he bumped Zach Palmquist out of his way. Unfortunately, out of Barach’s way was into Lyon.
Chants of “Ref You Suck” rained down from all corners of the arena after the no goal call. The energy from the fans began to amp the Monsters up. They fired shot after shot in an attempt to tie the game up. Lyon managed to stop all 16 of the shots he faced in the second period.
Two minutes and 44 seconds into the third period, Ryan MacInnis picked the puck off of Bardreau’s stick and sniped it into the net to tie the game at two.
For the rest of the third period, the Monsters went on breakaway after breakaway. Lyon stopped them every single time. Honestly, if it wasn’t for Lyon’s incredible skill, the Monsters would have wrapped the game up in regulation.
Despite their best effort, the Monsters pushed the game into a shootout where they fell when Mike Huntebrinker scored the lone shootout goal.
While the loss was frustrating, the Monsters have begun to move on and focus on their upcoming road trip.
“It’s not the result we wanted. We thought we deserved better but at the same time we’ll take the point and move on. We’ll get on the road and we’ll get some wins there.” – Head Coach John Madden
1st – Zac Dalpe (3g, 1a) / Mike Huntebrinker (0g, 0a, shootout goal)
2nd – Adam Clendening (0g, 3a) / Zac Dalpe (1g, 0a)
3rd – Derek Barach (1g, 0a) / Alex Lyon (44 shots faced, 42 saves, 65:00 TOI)
Friday, March 29th, 2019
Saturday, March 30th, 2019
*Bittner drew into the fourth line on Saturday replacing Thurkauf
Simpson – Clendening
*Carlsson drew into the third pairing on Saturday replacing Clendening
The Monsters have quite the final few weeks ahead of them playing seven games in 12 days.
This week they hit the road and head towards Canada for three game. The first two take place against the Laval Rocket on Wednesday, April 3rd (7:30) and Friday, April 5th (7).
On Saturday, April 6th, the Monsters take on their new nemesis the Belleville Senators at 7pm. Both teams are in the hunt for the final playoff spot in the North division. Beating Belleville will positively set the tone for the rest of the season.
After the Canadian road trip, the Monsters come home for their three final home games of the 2018-19 season. On Monday, April 8th, they play against the Rochester Americans for the final time this season. Puck drops at 7 pm. They end their homestand on Thursday, April 11th and Friday, April 12th against the Charlotte Checkers. Both games start at 7pm.
The Monsters close their season in Toronto against the Marlies on Sunday, April 14th at 4pm.
Could there be playoffs after the Marlies game? We hope so.