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Cleveland Monsters win first game of road trip against Rochester Americans

Photo Credit: John Saraya/Cleveland Monsters

Cleveland Monsters (4) at Rochester Americans (3) - Shootout

The Cleveland Monsters took on the Rochester Americans on Friday night. Hopes of ending their winless streak filled the Monsters’ heads. After the halfway point, no one likes to be last in their division. Last night began their quest to leave the cellar of the North.

Right off the bat the Amerks were too much for the Monsters’ defense to handle. They kept allowing the Amerks to get near the crease or into the crease giving Veini Vehvilainen a massive workout.

With 6:28 left in the first period, the Monsters had to kill of 18 seconds of a two-man disadvantage with the faceoff taking place in the d-zone. The Monsters lost the faceoff giving the Amerks full control of the ice. A little over a minute later the Amerks were able to score a 5-on-4 power play goal courtesy of John Gilmour who skated around every Monster on the ice with ease before poking a shot into the net.

With three goals and five power plays from the Monsters in the second period, everything seemed to go Cleveland’s way.

The Monsters headed to the power play 1:48 into the second after Marko Dano was tripped up behind the net. This was the first time in over a month the Monsters would be icing a power play without Adam Clendening on the ice for two solid minutes. Due to Clendening being in Columbus, the Monsters ran their power play a bit differently last night. They didn’t surround the crease while someone fired off shot after shot from the point like normal. Instead they would throw the puck into their defensive zone and build a play from behind Veini Vehvilainen.

This particular set up allowed the Monsters to score 1:07 into their first power play of the night. After receiving a pass from Andrew Peeke, Ryan MacInnis powered down the ice before cutting through the faceoff circle with confidence. As he neared Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, MacInnis saw an opening up top and sniped the puck into the net for the 1-1 equalizer.

The Monsters headed to their second power play of the night 7:27 into the second period when Jean-Sebastien Dea was collared for hooking. Almost immediately Peeke launched a rocket of a shot at Luukkonen that was quickly denied. Other than Peeke’s shot, nothing of note happened on the second pp.

With 10:18 left in the second,the Amerks broke the tie giving themselves the 2-1 lead over the Monsters. Vehvilainen kicked away Casey Mittelstadt’s initial shot but continued to try and play the puck. With Vehvilainen out of position, Mittelstadt was able to scoop up the rebound and snip it into the net.

A little over a minute later, the Monsters fired back with a goal of their own to tie the game at two. Gabriel Carlsson picked up the puck near Vehvilainen. He skated along the boards before tossing the puck into the neutral zone for MacInnis. Trey Fix-Wolansky was wide open to the right of MacInnis. So, MacInnis cut slightly to the right before passing the puck off to Fix-Wolansky who fired it home for the goal.

The Monsters headed back to the power play with 7:43 left in the second. Except this time, the power play had a lot of dicey moments. First Remi Elie had a massive breakaway blowing past Peeke before launching a shot at the net which banged off the post. Then there were a plethora of sloppy, wobbly passes. When you pair that with the fact they couldn’t catch anyone who made a move for the net, the Monsters were lucky the Amerks didn’t score a goal.

Kole Sherwood gave the Monsters the 3-2 lead with 3:39 left in the second. Doyle Somerby launched a shot that flew just wide of the net. It bounced off the boards in the direction of Sherwood who was posted on the doorstep. When the puck reached the crease, Sherwood quickly fired it past an unprepared Luukkonen.

During the third period, the Amerks did a great job of taking away passing and shooting lanes from the Monsters. In fact, most of the Amerks takeaways were a direct result of blocking a Monsters shot.

With a little under five to play in the game, Anton Karlsson went to the box for holding. The penalty kill fell on the job and allowed the Amerks to tie the game, 3-3, with 4:28 left in the game.

As time wound down on the clock, it was clear 60 minutes was not going to be enough time to close this game out. The boys were headed to overtime.

Monsters’ Head Coach Mike Eaves iced Fix-Wolansky, Peeke, and Stefan Matteau to start the extra stanza of play. They immediately turned on their burners and began to skate circles around the Amerks. The Monsters were able to maintain this momentum when Elie demolished an unsuspecting Fix-Wolansky at the blue-line giving Cleveland the man advantage 37 seconds into overtime.

Some good things happened on this power play. Matteau launched a shot through traffic that Luukkonen managed to knock out of the air with his stick. Fix-Wolansky raced towards the doorstep to try and pick up the rebound. Luukkonen saw Fix-Wolansky making a move for the crease and quickly jumped on the puck. If Luukkonen wasn’t paying attention, the game likely would have ended with a rebound goal.

Also during the overtime pp, MacInnis tried multiple times to catch Luukkonen off guard. Luukkonen was up to his tricks and managed to stop MacInnis at every turn.

With 1:46 left in overtime, Fix-Wolansky headed to the box. Not the best time to take a penalty. For the rest of overtime, the Monsters clogged all the shooting lanes forcing the Amerks to continue to pass the puck instead of shoot. The pressure the Monsters applied on the Amerks during the kill allowed the Monsters to get overtime without giving up a goal. Which means the game went into a shootout.

First up for the Amerks was Mittelstadt who swung right before he skate through the faceoff circle and powered down the slot. Vehvilainen stuffed Mittelstadt’s shot attempt.

Fix-Wolansky came out first for the Monsters. He went wide left before banging a shot off the post.

Round two consisted of Andrew Oglevie and Markus Hannikainen. Oglevie awkwardly shot the puck causing it to sail to the left of the net. Hannikainen glided in front of the doorstep before faking a shot. When Luukkonen jumped to stop the shot, Hannikainen fired it top shelf for the goal.

C.J. Smith was up next for the Amerks. If he made the shot, the shootout would continue. If he didn’t make the shot, the game would end with a Monsters win. Basically, there was a lot riding on Smith’s ability to shoot the puck. Smith powered toward the net with confidence, fired, and missed the net handing the 4-3 victory over to the Monsters.

3 Stars

1st - Ryan MacInnis (Cleveland Monsters) - 1g, 1a
2nd - John Gilmour (Rochester Americans) - 1g, 1a
3rd - Trey Fix-Wolansky (Cleveland Monsters) - 1g, 1a

Monsters Lines

Stefan Matteau - Ryan MacInnis - Trey Fix-Wolansky
Marko Dano - Derek Barach - Markus Hannikainen
Paul Bittner - Sam Vigneault - Calvin Thurkauf
Brett Gallant - Maxime Fortier - Kole Sherwood

Monsters Pairs

Gabriel Carlsson - Andrew Peeke
Steve Johnson - Dillon Simpson
Anton Karlsson - Doyle Somerby