Cleveland Monsters (3) at Syracuse Crunch (6)
The Cleveland Monsters fell to the Syracuse Crunch 6-3 last night. Veini Vehvilainen stopped 15 of the 20 shots the Crunch put on net. Despite the score, the Monsters stayed in the game until the final horn blew.
Despite playing with a lineup consisting of 11 forwards and 7 defender, the Monsters played with speed and energy all night. Even when the Crunch made it 6-3 with 48 seconds left in the game, the Monsters never stopped trying to tie the game. With the way they played in the last minute, you would have thought the game was much closer.
Markus Hannikainen and Ryan MacInnis ended the night with multi-points. Hannikainen posted two goals and an assist against the Crunch. Both goals were products of hard work, dedication, and skill. Hannikainen’s first goal of the night came 3:02 into the second period. After receiving a strong pass from Trey Fix-Wolansky, Hannikainen skated through the right circle before cutting across the top of the crease. As Hannikainen neared the goal line, he popped the puck over Scott Wedgewood’s pad.
With 9:29 left in the game, Hannikainen’s second goal of the night when he picked up a loose puck below the goal line and swung it into the net. This goal breathed new life into the Monsters as they tried to battle back from a 5-3 deficit.
MacInnis played a key role in scoring last night. He set multiple plays in motion which ultimately let to all three goals being scored.
Branden Troock, a PTO from the Toledo Walleye, has stepped up to the call for the depleted Monsters. Last night’s goal puts him at a point per game pace in his first three games with the team. The addition of Troock to the lineup has put a bit more pep in the step of the Monsters. Especially, his linemates who have benefited from his willingness to communicate in any situation.
The Monsters need to think before they react right now. With no end in sight to the Monster’s depleted roster, every reaction must be thought through before being set in motion. Last night, the Monsters ended up playing 10 minutes with only nine forwards due to an altercation Brett Gallant and Bryan Moore got into. Before I go further, I don’t blame Gallant and Moore for taking matters into their own hands. The Crunch were going after both of them all night long. Things finally boiled over when Ross Colton purposefully went knee-to-knee with Gallant. Moore started delivering blows on behalf of Gallant who was struggling to get up. Once Gallant collected himself, a challenge was set forth to Colton and a fight ensued. One of the linesmen stepped between the two in an attempt to break up the fight and ended up on the ground courtesy of Gallant. Once the penalties were doled out, Gallant was tossed from the game and Moore sat for 10 minutes.
This wasn’t the only incident of aggression that happened from the Monsters last night. However, I highlighted it to show the impact one moment had on the team. Unfortunately, no matter how you are being treated sometimes you have to take the “high road” and hope the refs take care of the situation.
It wasn't just aggression that got the best of their reactions last night. The first period was full of reactionary shots and plays. Many of the moves they made were rash and not well thought out during the first 20 minutes. These decisions led to unattainable loose pucks, sloppy power plays, and picked off passes. A lot of this could have been due to the adjustment of lines and roles. Once the second period rolled around, they were making smarter moves and playing a less jumpy style of game.
1st - Peter Abbandonato (Syracuse Crunch) - 2g, 0a
2nd - Alex Barre-Boulet (Syracuse Crunch) - 2g, 3a
3rd - Mathieu Joseph (Syracuse Crunch) - 1g, 1a
Markus Hannikainen - Ryan MacInnis - Trey Fix-Wolansky
Kole Sherwood - Derek Barach - Maxime Fortier
Paul Bittner - Sam Vigneault - Branden Troock
Bryan Moore - no one - Brett Gallant
Gabriel Carlsson - Adam Clendening
Steve Johnson - Dillon Simpson
Anton Karlsson - Doyle Somerby