Cleveland Monsters (5) at Syracuse Crunch (1)
For the second night in a row, the Cleveland Monsters took down the Syracuse Crunch. This time the score was 5-1.
After last night’s win, Head Coach John Madden opted to not have practice today. Instead the Monsters poured over film to prepare themselves for tonight’s game.
“We’ve been talking a bit about good puck management, good F3s, smart reloads, certain systems. Things that we got away from in our game. It’s to be expected with the first game of the playoffs. Everybody was a little excited. The was just jumbled up the other night.” – Head Coach John Madden
During the first minute of play, the Monsters were firing on all cylinders. They kept the puck in the offensive zone and worked hard to pick up their rebounds.
A little over five minutes into the game, Brad Thiessen lost his stick. Andy Andreoff tried to get a puck into the net, but Thiessen did need a stick to stone Andreoff. Thiessen played with this kind of confidence all night. He didn’t need a stick or a nearby defender to prevent the Crunch from scoring.
For the rest of the first period, the Monsters spent a lot of time firing off shots and trying to formulate successful plays. Crunch netminder Eddie Pasquale and the Crunch defense spent their time trying to foil every goal attempt. Both teams were able to successfully prevent the other from scoring during the first period.
Eighteen seconds into the second period, Justin Scott put the Monsters on the board. The Crunch left Scott completely alone in front of Pasquale. When the puck bounced onto Scott’s stick, he was able to fire the puck down the slot for the 1-0 lead.
Around the half way mark, everyone in attendance was treated to Sonny Milano’s defensive skills. In a span of 20 seconds he had two nice poke checks which foiled breakaways. His quick thinking gave Thiessen a bit of a breather.
After a series of nice cross ice passes, Ross Colton popped the puck into the net from the top of the crease for a power play goal. This tied things up at one for the Crunch.
As the second period wound down, things began to heat up between the two teams. At one point, everyone on the Crunch wanted a piece of Milano. Despite the Crunch jawing him and laying some unsavory hits, Milano did not oblige any of them with a fight.
With 3:58 left in the second period, Kole Sherwood said “enough was enough” and dropped the gloves with Nolan Valleau. It wasn’t long before Sherwood took him to the ground.
The Monsters took the 2-1 lead with 2:45 left in the second period. Dan DeSalvo found the slight opening in Pasquale’s five-hole and poked it in. Without Milano, this goal might not have happened. He was able to get the puck through a slew of people to DeSalvo.
During the first half of the third period, the Monsters power play struggled. They took a penalty during one causing the power play to become even strength. The other one looked like a full on penalty kill.
In the final 11 minutes of play, the Monsters began to take control of the game. They were dead set on not letting the Crunch obtain any momentum.
Milano set Mark Letestu up with a beautiful shot which turned into a goal, 3-1, with 10:55 left in the game.
Around 4:30 left in the game, the Crunch decided to pull Pasquale. Seventeen seconds later, Milano launched the puck into the empty net for the 4-1 lead.
Despite the goal, the Crunch did not put Pasquale back into the game. This allowed Derek Barach to score an empty netter with 2:20 to play.
At this point, a comeback for the Crunch was not going to happen. The Monsters were going to leave the ice the victors of the game and everyone, including the fans, knew it.
Even though the Monsters are travelling home leading the series 2-0, they know it’s not time to celebrate. There is still at least one game to play before moving on is even a possibility.
“It’s a great feeling. Anytime you go into someone else’s building hoping to get one. It’s a short series though. Getting two is huge for us. We’ve got two games at home. We’ve still got to take care of business though.”
1st – Sonny Milano (1g, 2a)
2nd – Mark Letestu (1g, 0a)
3rd – Brad Thiessen (19 shots faced, 18 saves, 59:53 TOI)
The Monsters head back to Cleveland to play in front of their fans at 7:30 pm on Tuesday, April 23rd. Don’t forget, there is a Cleveland Indians game at 6:10 pm on Tuesday. Parking will be scarce.
Thursday’s game is at 7pm at “The Rock” in Cleveland.