Toronto Marlies (6) at Cleveland Monsters (2)
The Cleveland Monsters only had two options against the Toronto Marlies on Tuesday night.
Win and move to game five.
Lose and get bounced from the playoffs.
They were about to embark on an uphill battle but all the right parts were there to make a win happen.
A strong and confident Monsters team entered the ice to start the game. They played a slow, methodical game with built with fierce intensity as the period went on.
The Monsters were the first to strike 2:54 into the first period. Trey Fix-Wolansky broke away from the pack and sniped one through Kasimir Kaskisuo’s five-hole for the 1-0 lead over the Marlies.
A little under five minutes into the game, Chris Mueller took down Paul Bittner and held on long enough to take a penalty. Alexandre Texier spent his time during the Monsters power play trying to crack Kaskisuo’s code. Most of Texier’s shots sailed by the net leaving him unsuccessful in the scoring area. However, another young gun made the power play shine bright. Fix-Wolansky fired a bomb before a hair below the blue line. Zac Dalpe was able to tip the puck into the net for the 2-0 lead over the Marlies.
Dalpe’s goal triggered the Marlies and they turned up the heat. The Marlies started laying bigger hits and constantly put themselves into scoring position. The Monsters were up to the task foiling all of the Marlies opportunities.
Things seemed to be going in favor of the Monsters. Then, a completely different team fielded the ice for the second period.
“I think we just stopped working. They picked their game up for about four or five minutes there. Buried four on us.” - Head Coach John Madden
A minute into the second, Adam Brooks fired the puck towards Brad Thiessen’s five-hole. Thiessen quickly closed up the gap causing the puck to bounce off his pads. The puck slowly rolled towards the goal line. With no defense around, Mason Marchment was able to brush it into the net to cut the Monsters lead in half, 2-1.
Timothy Liljegren tied the game at two when he fired a shot through Thiessen’s pads 3:47 into the second period.
Not even four minutes later, the Marlies took the 3-2 lead over the Monsters. Trevor Moore put just enough lift on the puck to pop it over Thiessen’s head. Both Thiessen and the defense were expecting Moore to shoot down low and left a slight gap open at the top of the net.
With 10:04 left in the second, Mueller guided the puck around the crease to Moore who shot it into the net for the 4-2 lead.
After the Marlies fourth goal of the night you could feel the Monsters start to mail it in. As the second period wound down, so did their level of compete and energy.
The Monsters needed to come out with a fire in their bellies to salvage their season. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Half the team came out deflated and struggled to meet the Marlies level of play.
A few breakdowns by the Monsters allowed Michael Carcone to extend the Marlies lead over the Monsters to 5-2.
Thiessen headed towards the bench with 7:38 to play in the game. The Marlies immediately began to launch shots at the empty net.
After the Monsters called a timeout in the final 2:30, the younger guys on the team tried to kick it into high gear.
The veterans, on the other hand, still looked like they had mailed in the season.
With 37 seconds left in the Monsters season, Carcone delivered one final blow when he scored on the Monsters’ empty net.
When the horn blew on signifying the end of the Monsters season the air could only be described as disappointing.
“Oh, it’s extremely disappointing. The last two months of the season we were in playoff mode. So, I say we kind of ran out of gas in terms of energy but overall to make the playoffs in the last game of the year, to get in, to play a really good Syracuse hockey team and beat them. A couple of these games we should have had. It’s a big learning experience for most of us. Some guys have never played in a playoff game before. If we can learn from this and move on, we’ll be better for it next year.” - Head Coach John Madden
Here’s the thing to remember, the Monsters have come a long way this season. They had a rotating roster for most of the season and the injury bug struck almost every week. In February, many people, including myself, thought there was no way the Monsters would even get this close to the playoffs. It seemed as though the season would end with the Monsters in last place and summer would come quickly.
The Monsters handled the challenge set before them well shocking everyone by squeaking into the playoffs in the final game of the regular season.
“It’s hard to measure. We put I thin 60 guys in the line up this year. You’re gonna have ups and downs. You’re gonna have guys that come in. We went through four goalies. That’s a little unheard of in the American Hockey League to play that many guys. With the amount of injuries, just different guys being out of the lineup, different guys being called up. We were able to piece it together. For us making the playoffs was a successful season. Going out like that was disappointing.” – Head Coach John Madden
No matter how disappointing last night’s loss was Head Coach John Madden is incredibly proud of his team and looking forward to what next year will be like for the team.
“Like I said before we were playing playoff hockey with 20 games to go. Every point counted, every game counted. We were kind of in that mode. To fight and get in, I’m very proud of them. I think they’ve all developed and grew. I think most guys would say they got better this year” – Head Coach John Madden
For the Marlies perspective on the sweep, head to Pension Plan Puppets for Hardev Lad’s recap of the game. Click here to read. Sheldon Keefe is doing some fantastic things with the Marlies. I would keep my eyes on them if I were you.
1st – Trevor Moore
2nd – Mason Marchment
3rd – Vincent LoVerde
Beer at night, beach during the day, and more offseason content coming your way.