Cleveland Monsters () at Binghamton Devils ()
The Cleveland Monsters headed into tonight’s game with one thing on their minds; the streak ends tonight. Both the Monsters and Binghamton Devils were riding streaks on different ends of the spectrum. The Devils were on a seven-game win-streak. While the Monsters dropped three straight games coming into tonight. A win for the Monsters meant retaining the 7th spot in the North Division. On the other hand, a loss meant the Monsters would fall to the final spot in the division.
A few familiar faces were back in action to help the Monsters through the fourth game of their six game road trip. Markus Hannikainen returned from injured reserve. While, the Columbus Blue Jackets assigned Ryan MacInnis, Gabriel Carlsson, Andrew Peeke, and Matiss Kivlenieks to the Monsters today. All five suited up for tonight’s game against the Devils.
Kivlenieks faced his first shot since December 28th, 2019 2:37 into the first period. With a flick of his pads, Kivlenieks batted away the Devil’s first shot of the night. Then, for good measure, Kivlenieks pound on the rebound to ensure it didn’t go anywhere near the crease.
The Monsters may not have fired off the first shot of the night but they did score the first goal. Sam Vigneault gave the Monsters the 1-0 lead 9:42 into the first period with shot from below the goal line that bounced off a Evan Cormier.
With 7:11 left in the first,the Devils tied it up at one. While Kivlenieks was being screened by Brett Seney, Julian Melchiori launched a shot from the point which bounced off of Seney’s stick into the net. Dillon Simpson and Andrew Peeke paid Kivlenieks no favors on this play as they got in his line of vision while trying to remove Seney from the doorstep.
The Monsters had a rough penalty kill towards the end of the period. There were a few missed passes and turnovers as players were trying to adjust to getting back into the swing of things. Also, the Devils maintained control for much of the kill. However, the Monsters redeemed themselves on the power play by firing off four solid shots. There was also no hesitation from the power play unit. They were either taking a shot or not.
Three heavy handed and solid shots were thrown on net by the Monsters during the first two minutes of the second period. On top of giving Cormier a workout, the Monsters went 3-for-3 in battles along the boards. The energy the Monsters exuded at the start of the second period allowed them to create some nifty plays. One of which was Brett Gallant’s goal 3:37 into the second period.
Trey Fix-Wolansky fired the puck from below the goal line towards Gallant. The puck bounced off of Gallant’s stick and headed towards the net. Cormier quickly stopped the puck from entering the net but Gallant wasn’t ready to let a juicy rebound get away. He barreled towards the puck and chipped it into the net for the 2-1 lead.
BIG BAD BRETT GALLANT pic.twitter.com/XUc2PS1oPH— Cleveland Monsters (@monstershockey) January 16, 2020
Just as the Monsters started to kick it in high gear and dominate the Devils, Justin Scott slid awkwardly into the boards. Once the trainer checked him out on the ice, Scott headed down the tunnel towards the dressing room and wasn’t seen for the rest of the night. As they have many games before this, the Monsters finished the game with a short bench.
With 10:08 left in the second, Derek Barach took a rather untimely hooking penalty to put the Monsters on the kill. Things started out well for the penalty kill unit as Kivlenieks blocked two shots in a row and Marko Dano launched his body in front of a third. Despite their best efforts to stop pucks from entering the net, the Devils were able to tie the game, 2-2, 40 seconds into the Monsters penalty kill. Nick Merkley fired off a pass from the right circle to Seney who was at the bottom of the left circle. Seney threw the pass in front of the crease for Joey Anderson to pop into the net. All night Merkley fired off shots or make key passes from the top of the right faceoff circle. The Monsters continued to leave him unattended up there. So, it’s no surprise he was able to successfully quarterback this play for the Devils.
The Devils broke the tie, 3-2, when Nathan Bastian redirected a puck into the net through Kivlenieks’ legs. After the tie breaking goal was scored, the Monsters kicked it into high gear and attacked the net in hopes of tying the game.
Things were going great for the Monsters. They had their legs beneath them and were firing on all cylinders. With 1:31 left in the game, Coach Eaves decided to use this energy to Cleveland’s advantage and pull Kivlenieks for the extra attacker. Five seconds later, the Devils fired a shot from their own zone into the empty net, 4-2.
There was still a sliver of hope for the Monsters as time slowly wound down.
With 1:09 left in the game, Michael McLeod forced a turnover at the blue line which Bastian was able to snipe into the net from the faceoff circle. The gap in goals was to far to close in such a short amount of time.
There was nothing the Monsters could do but take the “L” and fall into last place in the North.
1st - Evan Cormier (Binghamton Devils) - 40 saves, 42 shots faced, 60:00 TOI
2nd - Joey Anderson (Binghamton Devils) - 2g, 0a
3rd - Nathan Bastian (Binghamton Devils) - 2g, 0a
Stefan Matteau - Ryan MacInnis - Marcus Hannikainen
Marko Dano - Justin Scott - Kole Sherwood
Paul Bittner - Sam Vigneault - Calvin Thurkauf
Brett Gallant - Derek Barach - Trey Fix-Wolansky
Gabriel Carlsson - Adam Clendening
Dillon Simpson - Andrew Peeke
Steve Johnson - Doyle Somerby