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Cleveland Monsters take down top team in the league with a short bench

Photo Credit: John Saraya/Cleveland Monsters

Milwaukee Admirals (2) at Cleveland Monsters (3) - Overtime

The Cleveland Monsters kicked off 2020 with an overtime win,3-2, over the number one team in the American Hockey League, the Milwaukee Admirals.

For the first 6:18 of the game, the Monsters dominated the Admirals who were unable to fire off one shot. The lack of shot attempts from the Admirals stemmed from the fact the Monsters defense refused to let Milwaukee get into scoring position. Head Coach Mike Eaves proudly talked about the good start, “ We always talk about a great start and that’s the kind of start you want to have at home where you limit your opposition but you get things going, playing the way you want.”

The defense continued to shine bright during the first period. Adam Clendening had three goal attempts. While Dillon Simpson, pulled a few tricks out of his magic bag. One of the tricks Simpson put on display came with 7:46 left in the first period.A puck flew straight up in the air and looked as though it was going to come down in the crease. Simpson quickly jumped up and batted the puck behind the net.

With 1:28 left in the first period, Anton Karlsson bumped a pass from Stefan Matteau into the net to give the Monsters the 1-0 lead over the Admirals. “Matteau had the puck there. I know he has good hockey sense. I saw he looked at me,” Karlsson said of his first period goal, “I skated down there and hoped he saw me as well and he did. It was right on my stick. Somehow it went in and it felt good”

The second period could only be described as a real barn burner. “Everything happened out there in that period,” Karlsson said of the wild second period, “ Obviously guys on our team are stepping in and doing big things like dropping the gloves for teammates.”

Karlsson was right. Everything that could happen, did happen. There were two fights, one goal, 11 penalties totaling 45 minutes, and Paul Bittner was tossed for a cross-checking game misconduct.

Bittner getting tossed from the game left a bigger hole on the bench than normal due to the fact it put the Monsters down two men. Before things really got heated in the third, Dan DeSalvo blocked a shot with his face/head and never returned to the game.

Also, the Admirals tied the game at one while the Monsters were killing one of Bittner’s penalties. So, not only did Bittner leave the team shorthanded the rest of the game, his penalty gave the Admirals the power to score.

In games aggressive as yesterday’s, Coach Eaves noted as a coach you have to preach both keeping your composure and matching the other team’s aggressive style of play. “You have to find that fine line. We haven’t had a game like this in a long time, “ explained Coach Eaves of the intense style of play, “I think there are some lessons there that we can learn from it. They stood up for each other and that goes a long way for our team.”

The Monsters rolled into the third period with only 10 forwards at their disposal. Despite fielding a short bench, the Monsters fired on all cylinders for much of the third period.

Sam Vigneault gave the Monsters the 2-1 lead 7:46 into the third after tipping in a blue line bomb from Clendening.

With 1:55 left in the third, Anthony Richard decided to join in on the scoring fun after slamming home a pass from Rem Pitlick. This goal forced overtime between the two squads.

The Admirals controlled much of overtime. Despite their best efforts, the Monsters struggled to get anywhere near the net. Almost every breakaway was foiled. Then, with almost two minutes to play in extra time, Trey Fix-Wolansky raced towards the net with two Admirals in front of him. At the last second, he cut left and did a neat little spin before tossing the puck over to Matteau who quickly launched it into the net for the 3-2 win.

The Monsters and Admirals have a tight turn around as they meet again Saturday at 1pm. Karlsson discussed what the Monsters need to do to succeed in Saturday afternoon’s tilt stating “We kind of found a pace of how to play against this team. I don’t think we’re going to change too much. Just have the same fighting spirit that’s going to bring us to a good win, a good game.”

3 Stars

1st - Stefan Matteau (Cleveland Monsters) - 1g, 2a
2nd - Sam Vigneault (Cleveland Monsters) - 1g, 0a
3rd - Veini Vehvilainen (Cleveland Monsters) - 28 saves, 30 shots faced, 62:51 TOI

Monsters Lines

Stefan Matteau - Derek Barach - Trey Fix-Wolansky
Kole Sherwood - Justin Scott - Dan DeSalvo
Paul Bittner - Sam Vigneault - Calvin Thurkauf
Brett Gallant - Maxime Fortier - Abbott Girduckis

Monsters Pairs

Anton Karlsson - Adam Clendening
Steve Johnson - Dillon Simpson
Michael Prapavessis - Doyle Somerby