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Cleveland Monsters drop final game of road trip against the Utica Comets, 6-2

photo credit: John Saraya/Cleveland Monsters

Cleveland Monsters (2) at Utica Comets (6)

The Cleveland Monsters closed out their six-game road trip with a 6-2 loss to the Utica Comets. Coming into tonight’s game, the Monsters new the battle would not be easy as the Comets sit first in the North Division, 4th in the American Hockey League, and posted a record of 6-3-1-0 in their last 10 games.

The Monsters kicked the game off with a power play 39 seconds into the game. Despite not being able to score a goal, the power play didn’t look awful. They had many good looks on net and continually tried to come up with plays they could use to their advantage.

With 11:58 left in the first period, the Monsters headed to their first penalty kill of the night. It was a short lived kill as Kole Lind tipped a shot past Veini Vehvilainen shortly after the draw to give the Comets the 1-0 lead.

Carter Camper gave the Comets the 2-0 lead with 11:11 left in the first. As he was entering the neutral zone, Camper passed the puck off to Nikolay Goldobin who was along the boards. Once Camper entered the Monsters’ defensive zone, Goldobin sauced it across the ice to Camper who back handed the puck topshelf.

The Monsters had a quick power play of their own with 9:17 to play in the first. Trey Fix-Wolansky fired a shot through traffic that bounced off of Michael DiPietro’s pad. Ryan MacInnis muscled his way to the rebound and slammed it home to cut the Comets’ lead in half, 2-1.

During the final four minutes of the first period, Sam Vigneault and Kole Sherwood fired off multiple heavy handed shots towards the net. They scooped up each other’s rebounds and set each other up for shot attempts.

Vehvilainen saw a few too many pucks fly around the net while the Monsters were killing another penalty with 3:03 left in the period. Reid Boucher fired off three shots in the direction of Vehvilainen. Yet, the Monsters continued to leave him unattended. Despite all the shots flying around Vehvilainen’s head, the Monsters had a successful penalty kill.

A very unfortunate goal was scored by the Comets 26 seconds into the second period. Vehvilainen thought he stopped Lukas Jasek’s initial shot. However, the puck trickled under his pads towards the goal line. Jasek saw the puck and quickly tapped it into the net for the 3-1 lead.

A little over three minutes into the second, Paul Bittner tried to clear the puck from behind the net to one of his teammates. Seamus Malone intercepted the puck and knocked it behind Vehvilainen for the 4-1 lead.

The Monsters turned the heat up a bit for the rest of the period. They had a lot of speed but they seemed very jumpy and antsy. It was reminiscent of someone who had way too much coffee before going on an adventure. Simply put, the Monsters needed to calm down a bit and focus on the task which laid before them. It was going to be a rough task as the Comets were unwilling to let up on the scoring front.

With 4:37 left in the second, the Comets extended their lead over the Monsters to 5-1. Fix-Wolansky fumbled the puck along the boards to the right of DiPietro. Carter Bancks quickly picked the puck up and passed it to Goldobin who turned on the burners and hightailed it towards Vehvilainen. He made Vehvilainen jump just enough in the wrong direction to poke the puck past his left skate into the net.

Five goals in two period was enough to throw Brad Thiessen out on the ice to start the third period in place of Vehvilainen. The goalie change woke the Monsters up a bit. For the first half of the period, the Comets were unable to storm the net the way they did in the first two periods. Defense was top-notch not allowing anyone to go around the back of the net or to enter the scoring zone. It was as if a different team was thrown onto the ice for the third period.

The Monsters went on the power play 7:45 into the final stanza of play. They were unable to score but they hemmed the Comets into the Monsters’ offensive zone. While there, the Monsters displayed a lot of good stick work and passing.

With a little over seven minutes to play in the game, Calvin Thurkauf put the Monsters within three of the Comets, 5-2, with a beautiful snipe from the faceoff circle. Slowly, the Monsters began to come alive. Once the clock signified there was 5:30 left in the game, the Monsters turned on their burners and played good, solid hockey full of well executed fundamentals.

The life was taken out of the Monsters when the Boucher scored the Comets sixth goal of the night with 1:55 left in the game.

When the horn finally sounded, the Monsters had fallen to the Comets 6-2.

After six games in nine days, it was time for the Monsters to come home and get some much needed rest before Wednesday’s game against the Americans.

3 Stars

1st - Nikolay Goldobin (Utica Comets) - 1g, 3a
2nd - Kole Lind (Utica Comets) - 1g, 1a
3rd - Michael DiPietro (Utica Comets) - 24 saves, 26 shots faced, 60:00 TOI

Monsters Lines

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

Monsters Pairs

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