Utica Comets (2) at Cleveland Monsters (3)
After last night’s 3-0 loss to the Utica Comets, Head Coach Mike Eaves wanted the Cleveland Monsters to focus on two things heading into this afternoon’s game, rest and recovery. The team obviously listened to coach’s request as they skated onto the ice like a brand new team. They looked rested, recovered, and energetic. “Their energy level was good. I thought our compete was good in the first period,” said Coach Eaves of the Monsters strong start to the game.
The Monsters headed to the penalty kill 1:48 into the first period after Trey Fix-Wolansky was collared for hooking. A minute into the kill, Ryan MacInnis pilfered the puck from Nikolay Goldobin and raced towards the net before firing off a shot. Zane McIntyre blocked the shot with ease. Then, Marko Dano flew into the crease to try and push the rebound into the net. McIntyre was quick to stuff him as well. With 18 seconds left in the Monsters kill, the Comets were able to get on the board with a redirected shot by David Pope.
Sam Vigneault was called for slashing 5:40 into the game sending the Monsters back on the penalty kill. During this kill, Pope almost scored his second power play goal of the afternoon. He took an extra whack at a puck as Brad Thiessen was trying to swipe the puck out of the air. Dillon Simpson and Gabriel Carlsson were quick to push Pope out of the way to foil his attempt at a shot. The Monsters were able to tie the game at one during the final minute of the second penalty kill. Calvin Thurkauf banged a shot off the crossbar from near the top of the faceoff circle for the goal.
This goal placed the Monsters in a tie for 4th in the American Hockey League with shorthanded goal. “The shorthanded goals is a bonus. That’s not our job. Our job is to kill the penalties,” Coach Eaves said of the Monsters’ penalty kill, “The shorthanded goals have always been a bonus and I think it keeps the other teams at bay a little bit too.“
With 1:14 left in the first period, the Monsters extended their lead over the Comets to 2-1 with a power play goal courtesy of a one-timer from Stefan Matteau.
The Monsters started the second period with 1:18 of power play time. Eight seconds before the power play ended, the Monsters extended their lead over the Comets to 3-1.
The sequence for Fix-Wolansky’s power play goal started behind Thiessen and rushed forward complete with quick, crisp, and strong passes. A play like this doesn’t often shake end in success. “It doesn’t happen very often. It’s kind of fun to watch,” said Coach Eaves of the perfectly executed sequence, “It’s like running the football down from the one yard line. All the blocks are right there and you go all the way down.”
From Matteau’s perspective, the sequence was successful because of the “good players making good plays.” He expanded on this response by saying “Marko (Dano) made such a good pass over to him (Trey Fix-Wolansky). We just tried to get the break in and we got in clean. We just took what was given and everything just kind of worked out.”
Speaking of good players making good plays, Maxime Fortier has stepped up a lot over the past month. Especially during the second period of this afternoon’s game. He often breaks up plays, forces turnovers, and wins faceoffs. This afternoon Fortier added something else to the mix; scoring chances. During the second period, Fortier had an incredible look on net which McIntyre denied. Fortier then tried to pick up his own rebound but couldn’t slow down in time to grab the puck. This was such a smart move by Fortier. There was no one else around from either team to pick up the rebound. In that moment, the chance for a goal was solely on his shoulders. Granted, Fortier didn’t pick up the goal but the effort and brain power was there.
With 3:56 left in the second period, the Comets put themselves within one of the Monsters, 3-2. They spent around 30 seconds trying to cook something up and were rewarded with a rebound goal from Lukas Jasek.
The Monsters kicked the third period off by successfully killing a penalty Adam Clendening took late in the second period. They used this momentum to power through much of the third period with ease. Although, Carter Camper kept making things difficult for Thiessen as he kept posting up shop at the top of the crease blocking the netminder’s view of the ice. Karlsson spent a lot of time in the third period forcing Camper away from the net. Despite Camper’s pesky nature, the Comets were unable to score a tying goal and push the game into extra time.
With hard work and dedication, the Monsters were able to pull out the win over the Comets. “We found a way to find a way. It was just a hardworking win,” Matteau said of the Monsters 3-2 victory over the Comets.
Next up for the Monsters is a Wednesday evening game against the Rochester Americans at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
1st - Stefan Matteau (Cleveland Monsters) - 1g, 1a
2nd - Trey Fix-Wolansky (Cleveland Monsters) - 1g, 0a
3rd - Calvin Thurkauf (Cleveland Monsters) - 1g, 0a
Stefan Matteau - Kevin Stenulund - 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 - Steve Johnson
Anton Karlsson - Doyle Somerby