Rochester Americans (3) at Cleveland Monsters (2) - Overtime
The Cleveland Monsters returned home after playing six games over the course of nine days on the road. Their only win on the road came against tonight’s opponent, the Rochester Americans, in a shootout. After a long road trip full of disappointing losses, the Monsters were looking forward to pulling out a win in front of the home crowd. Unfortunately, this was not the case for the Monsters who fell to the Amerks, 3-2, in overtime.
Head Coach Mike Eaves explained from a coaches perspective how rough it can be coming of a long road trip, “As a coaching staff, that first game back after a long road trip is kind of an anomaly in terms of what to do to get guys ready.”
According to Coach Eaves “the first six minutes we looked like we had some jump.” This is a spot on assessment of how the Monsters performed during the first few minutes of the game. Trey Fix-Wolansky was one of the guys who started the game with a spark. A little over a minute into the first period, Fix-Wolansky stole a puck and immediately tried to squeak it through Jonas Johansson’s five-hole. Johansson quickly closed up shop and prevented a goal from happening.
The Amerks were the first on the board 3:44 into the game. Dillon Simpson saw Remi Elie speeding towards the net in pursuit of a goal. He dropped to the ground to prevent Elie’s shot. Once Elie saw Simpson move, he changed the placement of his shot and it flew past both SImpson and Veini Vehvilainen into the net for the goal.
With 9:03 left in the first, it appeared the Amerks might extend their lead when Rasmus Asplund went one-on-one with Vehvilainen. As Asplund entered the crease, he fired off a shot which Vehvilainen kicked away with confidence.
Thirty seconds later, Anton Karlsson was collared for holding putting the Monsters on their first penalty kill of the night. The first minute of the Monsters kill was spent between the two zones. This was mostly due to the fact the Amerks were trying to set up plays. During the last half of the kill, Markus Hannikainen tied a puck up along the boards for 30 seconds allowing the Monsters to catch their breaths before the kill ended.
The Amerks extended their lead over the Monsters to 2-0 with 3:06 left in the first period. Casey Mittelsdtadt raced through the faceoff circle and fired one to the left of Simpson and past Vehvilainen. This goal came 40 seconds after the Amerks won a faceoff in the Monsters’ defensive zone. They were able to maintain momentum until the goal was scored. Thus proving why faceoffs are an incredibly important part of the game.
Coach Eaves touched on how important faceoff wins are to a team’s momentum by saying “Faceoffs mean possession. We track faceoffs carefully. We lost Justin Scott. He was one of our best faceoff guys. Getting Stenny (Kevin Stenlund) back will help.” He even went on to explain how faceoff wins doesn’t just fall on one guy, “It’s not just the center icemen. It’s the people around the flank that can help win those 50/50 pucks.”
Steve Johnson kicked off the second period with a nice strong shot down the slot that Johansson managed to stuff. Things were starting to heat up for the Monsters. Even when they took two penalties in a row at 5:31 and 8:00 of the second the Monsters were able to keep things rolling. The ability to keep the burners on during the penalty kill led to the Monsters first goal of the night when Ryan MacInnis cut the Amerks lead in half, 2-1, with 10:49 left in the second while the Monsters were killing a double minor penalty. It was quite the breakaway down the ice and through the faceoff circle before sniping the puck into the net from the faceoff dot.
Since his return, MacInnis has been a force to be reckoned with on special teams scoring two power play goals and a shortie. “Well the one thing you can tell by watching Mac is he’s a good skater but you can tell he’s been playing at a high pace,” Coach Eaves explained, “He was noticeable on the ice tonight with his speed and the goal he scored was a result of that”
With 5:32 left in the second, it appeared the Monsters would tie the game due to Sam Vigneault stealing a pass from the Amerks and barreling down the ice towards Johansson. As Vigneault neared the net, he was hauled down and clipped the net before flying into the boards.
The Monsters carried their hunger for a goal over from the second period and used it to fuel them in the third. Marko Dano had the joy of scoring the equalizer, 2-2, 6:27 into the third period with a wraparound goal.
Just gonna wraaaaaap it around pic.twitter.com/nsYKN9wlLH— Cleveland Monsters (@monstershockey) January 23, 2020
After Dano’s equalizer, the Monsters kicked it into high gear and began attacking the net like angry bumble bees. From the way they played, it was clear they wanted to win this one in front of the hometown fans. Strong, crisp passes paired with high intensity play made the Monsters look like monsters on the ice. It just wasn’t enough to get a third goal past Johansson. However, their intensity and ability to clog lanes didn’t allow the Amerks to score either. Which could only mean one thing; overtime.
The Monsters maintained control of the puck for the first minute of overtime. They fired off shot after shot at the net and effectively hemmed the Amerks in the Monsters’ offensive zone. After that, it was a battle between the two to see who could come out on top. In the end, it was Lawrence Pilut who was able to get one past Vehvilainen 3:24 in overtime to end the game.
As the Monsters walked down the tunnel to the locker room, not a sound was made for this was not the homecoming they wanted.
1st - Lawrence Pilut (Rochester Americans) - 1g, 0a
2nd - Remi Elie (Rochester Americans) - 1g, 0a
3rd - Ryan MacInnis (Cleveland Monsters) - 1g, 1a
Stefan Matteau - Kevin Stenlund - Trey Fix-Wolansky
Marko Dano - Ryan MacInnis - Markus Hannikainen
Calvin Thurkauf - Sam Vigneault - Kole Sherwood
Brett Gallant - Derek Barach - Paul Bittner
Gabriel Carlsson - Andrew Peeke
Steve Johnson - Dillon Simpson
Anton Karlsson - Doyle Somerby