Cleveland Monsters (5) at Toronto Marlies (1)
Heading into yesterday afternoon’s game the Cleveland Monsters were unsure of their playoff fate. The Belleville Senators needed to lose their game which was two hours before the Monsters took on the Toronto Marlies. Then, the Monsters needed to either push the game to overtime or win in regulation to hop into the final playoff spot in the North.
The results of the Senators game were not finalized until the Monsters were halfway through the first period. As luck would have it, the Senators lost, 4-2. At this point the fate of playoffs fell in the Monsters hands.
The first period between the Monsters and Marlies started out a bit slow. Both teams played a low energy game during the first two minutes of play. Slowly, things began to pick up for the two teams. The Marlies defense shut down every breakaway and tried to throw their bodies in front of every shot. On the other side, Justin Scott spent much of his time on ice as an extension of the defense. Considering some of the scoring power on the Marlies, this was a very good thing.
During the first, we had a chance to see the Monsters’ power play and penalty kill. All three units for the Monsters’ pk had great shot attempts. A few times I wondered how in the world Eamon McAdam was able to stop those shots. The Monsters’ power play units played a crisp and tight game. Having Sonny Milano and Zac Dalpe on a unit together is like listening to a pianist nail Rachmaninoff on their first try. Simply put, it’s beautiful.
At the end of the first period, the score was tied at zero. However, the bigger story is the fact the Monsters outshot the Marlies 20-2. It’s clear the Monsters had one thought on the mind, score goals.
Twenty seconds into the second period, Dalpe gave the Monsters the 1-0 lead. It came after some great playmaking by the defensive pairing of Doyle Somerby and Ryan Collins.
The Marlies tied the game at one 9:11 into the second. Hudson Elynuik tipped in Eemeli Rasanen’s shot from the near wall to make it happen.
Forty-five seconds later, Marc Letestu was left alone at the top of the crease. From below the goal line, Dan DeSalvo faked out the Marlies defenders before passing Letestu the puck. Without hesitation, Letestu popped the puck into the net for the 2-1 lead.
This wasn’t the first time yesterday, or even this season, DeSalvo set up a crucial playfor the Monsters. During postgame, Dalpe touched on how nice it’s been to have DeSalvo on the team this season.
“I played against Danny when he was in Manitoba and I thought he was a really good player. So, when I saw he joined our team I was obviously excited. He’s been everything I hoped and saw in Manitoba.”
With eight minutes to play in the second, Somerby took off down the ice with the puck. He threw the two Marlies who were chasing him off when he began to circle back. This allowed Somerby to launch the puck into the net from the faceoff dot to give the Monsters the 3-1 lead over the Marlies.
Scoring didn’t slow down for the Monsters in the third period. Two minutes and 15 seconds into the final stanza, Scott extended their lead over the Marlies to 4-1. He was left alone on the right side of the crease allowing him to one-time Ryan MacInnis’ pass into the net.
With 16:20 left in the third period, Derek Barach forced a turnover, took off down the ice, and fired it into the net for the 5-1 lead.
The Marlies kicked things up a notch and tried to make a comeback. Brad Thiessen was not going to allow a comeback to happen on his watch. Yet again, Thiessen had another standout game where he provided highlight reel save after highlight reel save.
When the final horn sounded, it was official, the Monsters were headed to the 2019 Calder Cup playoffs for the third time in the history of the team.
Back in February, a play off birth didn’t seem possible. It appeared Head Coach John Madden was going to have an unsuccessful three years with the team. Once March rolled around, the Monsters went on a tear and put themselves into playoff contention with many of the players Madden has coached since day one with the Monsters.
“Progression. It’s development. The first year we tied fort he last final playoff spot. We lost on our win percentage. This year it was almost looking like the same thing.” – Head Coach John Madden
Not only did the Monsters get into the playoffs, they did it in Coach Madden’s hometown in front of his friends and family.
“It’s great. I have some family and friends here. So, it’s always good to win in front of them but just being in the hometown is fun too.”
1st – Doyle Somerby (1g, 1a)
2nd – Brad Thiessen (18 shots faced, 17 saves, 59:53 TOI)
3rd – Hudson Elynuik (1g, 0a)