Charlotte Checkers (4) at Cleveland Monsters (3) – Overtime
The Cleveland Monsters came into tonight’s game against the Charlotte Checkers knowing it would not be an easy one. The Checkers are the number one team in the league for a reason. They play for keeps.
The first period was one wild ride for both teams.
Two minutes and 32 seconds into the game, Dennis Robertson aggressively threw Kole Sherwood into the glass and then onto the ground. The Refs collared Robertson for roughing and off to the box he went for the next two minutes.
The first power play unit had a few missteps. This will happen when you have two guys who just returned from extensive injuries, Sonny Milano and Alex Broadhurst, on the same unit. The second unit of Dan DeSalvo, Derek Barach, Kevin Stenlund, Justin Scott, and Tommy Cross made a lot of noise attacking the net at every turn. However, it was the first unit who made the most noise of all with 11 seconds left in the power play. Adam Clendening faked a shot and passed it off to Mark Letestu who slapped it towards the net. Milano knocked it out of the air and into the net.
“To get one against the best penalty kill in the league is nice. It was a big goal for us.” – Head Coach John Madden
Almost six minutes into the game, the Monsters extended their lead over the Checkers to 2-0. From near the goal line, Milano passed the puck to Letestu who was open in the slot. Upon receiving the puck, Letestu passed it off to DeSalvo who slammed it home for the goal.
The Checkers cut the Monsters lead in half, 2-1, 9:48 into the first period. Martin Necas fed the puck to Patrick Brown who tipped it into the net. The puck sailed passed Ryan Collins to get to Brown. Not a good luck for the defense.
Tomas Jurco tied things up for the Checkers after deflecting a shot from Necas off his body with 7:56 left in the first period.
Both teams turned up the intensity as the period wound down. Unfortunately, during the final two and a half minutes of the first, things went awry for the Monsters. Twenty-nine seconds into their second power play of the night, Milano took a high-sticking call. Then, around 30 seconds later, Cross took a tripping penalty to give the Monsters the man-disadvantage.
With 20 seconds left in the period, Brad Thiessen put on a show throwing his body all over the crease to stop the puck. The play went to review as it seemed the puck may have crossed the goal line. After a few minutes, the refs proclaimed there was no goal.
Luckily, for the Monsters, the first period ended with both teams tied at two.
The Monsters came out hot and heavy to start the second period. Calvin Thurkauf attacked the net and pushed the puck across the goal line 2:30 into the period. The refs were unsure if the puck actually crossed the goal line and immediately convened to watch the replay. After a lengthy wait, the refs signaled that the goal was good.
Thurkauf worked his butt off to give the Monsters the 3-2 lead.
With 12 minutes left in the period, the Monsters started to slow down and play a rather sloppy game.
“Other than having a few looks on the power play, it was us scrambling in our own zone. I think it’s the most we’ve ever played in our own zone. I think it’s the most we’ve tuned over pucks. We weren’t sharp.” – Head Coach John Madden
The third brought the Checkers tying goal with 11:52 left in the period. Julian Gauthier skated through Collins and Doyle Somerby before going top shelf.
The Monsters were able to push the game into overtime and procure a point. However, the Checkers came out on top after Aleksi Saarela scored 2:25 into the extra period.
“We just weren’t ourselves tonight. A little step behind. Obviously, we’ll take anything in terms of points right now but we gotta be better tomorrow” – Head Coach John Madden
The Monsters need to bring better than their best play to the game on Friday, April 12th against the Checkers. Time is running out on the end of the season.
1st – Aleksi Saarela (1g, 0a)
2nd – Martin Necas (0g, 2a)
3rd – Sonny Milano (1g, 1a)
The Monsters and Checkers meet again on Friday, April 12th at 7pm.
The Monsters close their season in Toronto against the Marlies on Sunday, April 14th at 4pm.
Here’s hoping Sunday won’t be the last game of the season.