Cleveland Monsters (3) at Laval Rocket (2)
After getting shut out by the Cleveland Monsters on Wednesday, the Laval Rocket were on the prowl for a win. The fact they were mathematically eliminated by the Monsters helped fuel that fire. The Rocket are not headed to the playoffs, but they can help control the destiny of who ends up in post season.
Right off the bat, you knew Derek Barach was going to have a night to remember. On his first shift of the game, Barach made the gutsy move to force the Rocket netminder, Michael McNiven, to cough up the puck. This allowed the Monsters to maintain control of the momentum for the first few minutes of the game.
Despite Barach’s best effort to keep the Monsters in control, the Rocket were the first to score 3:42 into the first. Alex Belzile scored the goal with a nice snipe that the defensive pairing of Doyle Somerby and Ryan Collins watched as it flew into the net.
The Rocket dominated much of the first half of the opening period. Even though the Rocket dominated, Barach still stayed consistent and tried to set up multiple plays for his linemates.
The Monsters were a lively bunch in the second period. Both Zac Dalpe and Kevin Stenlund spent their time trying to crack McNivens’ code. While, Tommy Cross and Garret Cockerill made sure no one got too close to Brad Thiessen. If a Rocket entered the “danger zone”, Cross and Cockerill quickly showed them why that was a bad idea.
Brett Lernout extended the Rocket lead over the Monsters 12:26 into the second period with a bomb of a shot. At the time of release, Thiessen was being screened by his own team. Not the proudest moment for the Monsters defense.
Around a minute later, Kevin Stenlund passed the puck to Calvin Thurkauf who was posted at the top of the crease He fired a point-blank shot but was stopped by McNiven
On the next play, the Monsters cut the Rocket’s lead in half, 2-1. Dillon Simpson launched a shot down the slot which Barach tipped into the net.
With 22 seconds to play in the second, Dalpe extended his point-streak to 10 games with a zinger from the right wall near the top of the faceoff circle. Not only was this the tying goal but it was the turning point of the game.
Thiessen spent the first six minutes of the third period making multiple great saves. The deflated sighs of the crowd gave the Monsters the energy they needed to finish strong.
With 2:38 left in the game, Barach delivered the final blow after squeaking a shot through McNivens’ five-hole and into the net.
Barach’s second goal of the night forced the Rocket to pull McNivens for the rest of the game. The extra attacker did not help the Rocket get the tying goal to force things to overtime. This game was destined to end in regulation. Yet again, the Monsters were the ones to come out on top.
The Monsters head to Belleville to take on the Senators on Saturday night in an epic battle of the final playoff spot in the North. Things were a little intense the last time the two teams met. I don’t think anyone has gotten over some of the hits that were made and the things that came out of certain players’ mouths. Plus, the Senators are going to be seething over their 3-1 loss to the Hershey Bears tonight.
No matter how it turns out, Saturday’s game is going to be one for the history books.
1st – Derek Barach (2g, 0a)
2nd – Phelix Martineau (0g, 0a)
3rd – Alex Belzile (1g, 0a)
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.