Cleveland Monsters (5) at Syracuse Crunch (3)
The Cleveland Monsters started the first round of the playoffs out with a bang beating the Syracuse Crunch, 5-3, in game one.
The Monsters spent the first few minutes of the game in their own zone. They quickly got their legs beneath them and began zooming down the ice with the puck.
There were many moments of brilliance from the defense during the first period. One consisting of Doyle Somerby sticks out the most. Hungry for a goal, Brady Brassart powered down the ice towards Brad Thiessen. As he began to wind up for the shot, Somerby threw his body onto the ice and slowly slid in front of Brassart’s shot.
Another highlight from the defense in the first came from Garret Cockerill who blocked two point blank shots in a row. Both of those shots would have been deadly for the Monsters momentum.
As the first period wound down, the hits were quick and heavy. It also appeared that refs had swallowed their whistles. There were some unsavory things going down on the ice yet nothing was called.
The second period started off with Alexa Barre-Boulet firing a shot just high of the net. Not a good look by the Monsters defense. However, they were able to scoop up the puck from behind the net and clear it down the ice before any damage could happen.
Then, around six minutes into the second period, Kole Sherwood took off at top speed down the ice before firing a shot towards Eddie Pasquale. Both his initial shot and rebound were stuffed by the Crunch netminder.
A little over six minutes into the second, the Monsters headed to their first power play of the evening. Let’s just say it was not the best power play I have seen come out of this team. Their passes were a bit sloppy and they had trouble chasing down any Crunch player who broke away from the pack.
With 9:45 left in the second period, Mark Letestu launched a shot from above the right faceoff circle into the net to give the Monsters the 1-0 lead. This goal might not have come to fruition if Sonny Milano didn’t pass the puck off to Letestu. He had a slightly decent opportunity to rush the net and try to push the puck back Pasquale. Instead, Milano fired the puck back to Letestu who was wide open and had a clearer shot at the net.
Not even two minutes later, Ryan MacInnis broke away from the pack before lofting the puck down the slot to extend the Monsters lead over the Crunch to 2-0.
It seemed as though the Monsters were going to finish the second with a commanding 2-0 lead. The Crunch had other ideas. Cameron Gaunce kicked off a great series of passes which led to Alexander Volkov dropping to one knee before firing the puck into the goal.
This goal gave the Crunch a little bit of momentum to hold onto during intermission.
The momentum stayed in their favor for a bit as the Crunch were able to tie the game at two 10:49 into the final period of play.
Two and a half minutes later, Kevin Stenlund gave the Monsters the 3-2 after tipping in a shot from Sherwood.
“Stenlund, that was his first power play goal of the year. So, It couldn’t come at a better time.” – Head Coach John Madden
Zac Dalpe extended the Monsters lead to 4-2 with 5:59 left in the game. MacInnis outmuscled Nolan Valleau along the boards before passing the puck towards the top of the crease. Dalpe was there to receive the puck and slam it into the net for the goal.
Carter Verhaeghe had a nice little shot past the defense towards the top of the crease to put the Crunch within one of the Monsters, 4-3, with 1:52 left in the game.
The Crunch turned up the heat in an attempt to tie the game at four. Luckily, for the Monsters, Dillon Simpson sealed the deal with an empty net goal with 37 seconds left in the game.
What a great way for the Monsters to start the first round of the playoffs.
“Oh, I was great. All the guys played well. I thought Thiess made some great saves down the stretch for us. It was a tough fought game. Could have went either way. Their power play is obviously potent. We gotta deal with that tomorrow.” – Head Coach John Madden
Besides the win, the best part of the win was the fact all of the goals were scored by a variety of different players.
“Well that’s huge. Any time you have a team that has depth scoring and guys putting pucks in the net that don’t normally do it, it’s huge.” – Head Coach John Madden
1st – Carter Verhaeghe (1g, 2a)
2nd – Alex Barre-Boulet (0g, 1a)
3rd – Ryan MacInnis (1g, 1a)
The Monsters and the Crunch meet for game two in Syracuse at 700pm Saturday night. After the game they travel back to Cleveland where they will play on Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30 pm.
Remember there is a Cleveland Indians game at 6:10 pm on Tuesday. Parking with be scarce.