Grand Rapids Griffins (2) at Cleveland Monsters(6)
After being shutout by the Binghamton Devils on Sunday afternoon, the Cleveland Monsters put their offensive skills on display beating the Grand Rapids Griffins 6-2.
On Sunday, Coach Eaves highlighted the fact the Monsters needed to find themselves before Tuesday night’s game. After a chat with leadership, the Monsters knew what they had to do to be successful in Tuesday’s game.
The Monsters kicked off the game with a bang by scoring a goal 1:01 into the first period. Jakob Lilja fired off a shot which banged off of someone in front of the net. Gabriel Carlsson was in the right place at the right time and launched the rebound into the net from the near faceoff circle.
While the first period ticked on, the Monsters displayed a lot of the quick thinking and level of energy Coach Eaves has been looking for the past few games. At one point, the puck popped into the air after the faceoff draw. While everyone was watching the puck, Kole Sherwood glanced up and quickly moved towards where he thought it would land. When the puck dropped, Sherwood was already in position to take off with it. Another example of the positive energy the Monsters brought to the first period came with 10:50 left in the first period. Paul Bittner knocked a pick out of the air and went one-on-one with Calvin Pickard before firing the puck. Pickard may have been quick to stop him but it wasn’t the easiest stop to have to make.
The Monsters headed to the power play 9:40 into the first period after Maxime Fortier was held while bringing the puck to the net. During the power play, Adam Clendening and the Monsters tried something a bit different. In typical fashion, Clendening opened up shop at the point. Instead of firing shots towards the net, Clendening continued to pass the puck over to Trey Fix-Wolansky who was lying in wait at the faceoff dot across the ice. Upon receipt, Fix-Wolansky one-timed the puck towards the netminder. This move seemed to catch the Griffins penalty kill unit off guard.
With 6:39 left in the first period, Lilja took an interference penalty after tripping over Pickard. The man disadvantage didn’t keep the Monsters from lighting the lamp. Stefan Matteau slowly glided down the ice and kept looking at his teammates as if they were working on putting a passing play into motion. Instead, Matteau fired the puck into the top corner of the net from the faceoff ciricle for the 2-0 lead over the Griffins.
The Monsters kept the positive momentum going in the second period by scoring four goals. “It’s funny. After the second period, I didn’t know what to say to the guys. We haven’t been in that situation very often this year,” Coach Eaves said of the second period.
Yet again, the Monsters were quick to light the lamp. A little under two minutes into the second period, Sherwood picked up an errant puck from behind the net and passed it to Paul Bittner who slammed it home for the 3-0 lead. Three minutes later, Clendening launched a shot from between the point and the faceoff circle. Lilja grabbed a piece of the puck before it went into the net giving the Monsters the 4-0 lead over the Griffins.
Sandwiched between the Monsters goals was a power play goal for from Evgeny Svechnikov 6:17 into the second.
Three minutes after the Griffins lone goal of the period, the Monsters extended their lead to 5-1. Ryan MacInnis was initially stuffed by Pickard. However, this didn’t stop MacInnis from trying to make something happen. He swept the puck below the goal line and stopped to collect himself before passing the puck off to Trey Fix-Wolansky who quickly popped it into the net.
Maxime Fortier extended the Monsters lead over the Griffins to 6-1 9:01 into the second. Steve Johnson skated around the back of the net with the puck before passing it through the crease to Fortier who was waiting on the other side. “I saw Johnny going around the net and I just thought be ready, be in front of the net, be ready for any puck to bounce there. He did all the job. I just had to tap it in,” Fortier on his first goal of the season.
After the Monsters’ sixth goal of the night, the Griffins decided it was time to give Pat Nagle a turn in net. According to Coach Eaves, when the opponent makes a change in net, the players tend to “test him right away, throw a lot of pucks and bodies at him and see how he handles it.” Nagle handled the test quite well for the Griffins. Right off the bat, the Monsters had a few great scoring chances that he was able to quickly prevent from becoming goals. He also faced a Monsters’ two-man advantage for 1:52. During the two-man advantage, the Monsters threw everything they had at Nagle. They just couldn’t crack the code.
Things weren’t nearly as good for the Monsters in the final period of play as they spent 10 minutes on the penalty kill. With half a period of man advantage time at the Griffins’ disposal, it was only a matter of time before they were able to score a power play goal. Luckily, the Monsters were able to prevent the Griffins’ from getting any sort of comeback momentum.
The Monsters and Griffins meet again on Friday in Grand Rapids. “They’re going to answer back. They don’t want to get beat up like that down the road,” Fortier said of the rematch on Friday, “So, they’re going to come out strong and we have to do the same thing.”
1st - Jakob Lilja (Cleveland Monsters) - 1g, 1a
2nd - Adam Clendening (Cleveland Monsters - 0g, 3a
3rd - Brad Thiessen (Cleveland Monsters) - 37 saves, 39 shots faced, 60:00 TOI
Stefan Matteau - Ryan MacInnis - Trey Fix-Wolansky
Markus Hannikainen - Derek Barach - Jakob Lilja
Paul Bittner - Calvin Thurkauf - Kole Sherwood
Brett Gallant - Sam Vigneault - Maxime Fortier
Gabriel Carlsson - Adam Clendening
Steve Johnson - Dillon Simpson
Anton Karlsson - Doyle Somerby