Utica Comets (3) at Cleveland Monsters (0)
Alex Bevan once sang “You wanna make a hit record? I’ll tell you what to do. You go to Cleveland”. You can add to this statement by saying “if you want to take in a hockey game, go to Cleveland”. The 13,198 fans in attendance at tonight’s game would likely agree with this statement.
After five days off, the Cleveland Monsters were back in black (uniforms) to take on the Utica Comets. “It’s the first game back from five days off. You’re not sure what you’re going to get,” Head Coach Mike Eaves said of the extended break.
Both teams tried their hardest to hit Veini Vehvilainen and Michael DiPietro with their best shot. They kept firing away at the net. At one point, DiPietro launched his body across the crease to stop a laser beam from Kole Sherwood. The shot slammed right into DiPietro’s mask before bouncing behind the net.
After the five minute mark, things started to heat up between the two teams. Dylan Blujus came barreling towards Trey Fix-Wolansky with every intent to hit him and steal the puck. Fix-Wolansky had other plans on his mind. As Blujus neared his target, Fix-Wolansky quickly turned and laid a hit of his own.
The Comets responded to this hit by scoring a goal 5:08 into the game. Vehvilainen grabbed an errant puck from behind the net and flung it towards Gabriel Carlsson who was posted along the boards. Carter Bancks forced Carlsson to pass the puck behind the net to Adam Clendening. Within moments of receiving the puck, Clendening had his pocket picked by Tanner Sorenson who took off with the puck. From behind the net, Sorenson tossed the puck off to Bancks who tapped the puck into the net for the goal.
Not even a minute later, Derek Barach was collared for tripping putting the Monsters on their first penalty kill of the night. The Monsters struggled to get the puck into the neutral zone during the pk. However, Vehvilainen made a few good plays to prevent goals from happening.
With 7:13 left in the first period, Anton Karlsson dropped to the ground in an attempt to stop Nikolay Goldobin’s shot from entering the net. The puck flew past Karlsson’s ear like a summer breeze before it banged off the post into the net to give the Comets the 2-0 lead.
The second period started out with a few penalties from each team. Clendening accidentally kneed one of the Comets while trying to keep them from leaving the neutral zone with the puck. Brett Gallant noticed the Comets weren’t too pleased with the hit and immediately rushed to Clendening’s side in case someone’s manners slipped . Jalen Chatfield started to come for Clendening in aid of his teammate. Gallant saw him lying low in the weeds ready to ambush Clendening and was all over him with the fervor of a barracuda. After the officials separated everyone, Chatfield and Gallant received a five minute major for roughing. While Clendening received two minutes for kneeing. The Monsters were able to successfully kill the penalty thanks to players like A. Karlsson who sped down the ice faster than a Maserati that goes 185 to chase down Comets who were on a breakaway with the puck.
With 11:13 left in the second period, the Monsters had a two-man advantage for two minutes. They were unable to do anything with the 5-on-3 due to the fact the Comets created a triangle formation in the slot. This formation prevented the Monsters from being able to fire off any decent passes or shots on net.
Early in the third period, Sam Vigneault turned on the burners and fired off a shot at DiPietro. The shot was quickly stopped but Paul Bittner pushed the rebound into the net for the goal. Or so everyone thought. The official quickly waived it off as a no goal. “They said it was goalie interference. That was the length of it. It’s not reviewable in our league,” explained Coach Eaves, “We were caught shorthanded on that one. It’s the referee’s discretion. That’s what we were told.”
To say the fans were not pleased with the no-goal call would be an understatement. Hate is a strong word but the fans really, really, really didn’t like the refs for that call. Boos rained down from every corner of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Then, the “ref you suck” chants could be heard out of the mouth of both the young and old. As the game continued, the boos for the officials continued. Typically when there is an official timeout fans yell “What official?”. Tonight, the word official was met with boos upon boos.
The Monsters were never able to get their momentum back. In the waning minutes of the game, the Monsters went on the two-man disadvantage where the Comets delivered the final blow in the form of a power play goal.
Despite the loss, the Monsters fans still have the team’s back. The Monsters have their ups and downs. It doesn’t matter because this is their team and they’ll be right back here at 1pm on Saturday to cheer the Monsters to a redemption victory.
1st - Michael DiPietro (Utica Comets) - 27 saves, 27 shots faced, 60:00 TOI
2nd - Carter Bancks (Utica Comets) - 1g, 0a
3rd - Nikolay Goldobin (Utica Comets) - 2g, 0a
Stefan Matteau - Kevin Stenlund - Trey Fix-Wolansky
Marko Dano - Ryan MacInnis - Kole Sherwood
Calvin Thurkauf - Sam Vigneault - Paul Bittner
Brett Gallant - Derek Barach - Maxime Fortier
Gabriel Carlsson - Adam Clendening
Dillon Simpson - Andrew Peeke
Anton Karlsson - Doyle Somerby