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Derek Barach, Veini Vehvilainen lead Cleveland Monsters to shutout win over the Binghamton Devils

Photo Credit: John Saraya/Cleveland Monsters

Binghamton Devils (0) at Cleveland Monsters (3)

After a rough Wednesday night at the office, the Cleveland Monsters took down the Binghamton Devils 3-0 on Friday night. Veini Vehvilainen came up big stopping all 34 shots the Devils fired on net. “He looked like the young man who played when he was on the top of his game,” Coach Eaves said of Vehvilainen, “He was very calm and controlled his rebounds well.”

The Monsters lines on Friday were significantly different than Wednesday night’s lines. With Kevin Stenlund and Ryan MacInnis up in Columbus, Derek Barach was bumped up to the first line centering Trey Fix-Wolansky and Stefan Matteau. This means there were two smaller in stature players on the same line getting top minutes. Barach explained what two smaller players can bring to the game when they are on the same line, “We both have good speed and when we can use that we’re both skating, getting inside on bigger guys kind of spinning off. Like I said just using our speed. I think that’s our biggest asset”

During Wednesday night’s post game presser, Head Coach Mike Eaves touched on the fact the Monsters didn’t play like they typically do. So, coming into Friday’s game, Coach Eaves was looking for the team he normally coaches to make an appearance. For the first two periods of the game, his wish came true. “i thought up until we were two to nothing I thought we were playing to a pretty good level. Then the game kind of got goofy,” said Coach Eaves of the way the Monsters played tonight.

During the first 10 minutes of the game, the Monsters made a lot of noise for a team who were unable to score until the end of the first period. The fourth line brought the grit and skill during those 10 minutes. Brett Gallant laid multiple hard hits to knock the Devils off of the puck. While, Bryan Moore continued to not stray far from the fundamentals of good passing and shooting. Maxime Fortier won multiple faceoffs and skated with ease around any member of the Devils who tried to get in his way. “Well, Max can really skate and he has good puck skills. So, when Max plays to those two things he can be a factor in a good way for us,” Coach Eaves said of Fortier.

The Monsters were the first on the board courtesy of the first line. “The first one was a good forecheck. Fixy (Trey Fix-Wolansky) got the puck low. Then bounced it to Matteau who tapped it to me in front,” Barach said of the first period goal, “The puck kind of went fly up my blade and I just tried to elevate it. Luckily, it got past the goalie.”

During the second period, the Monsters special teams spent a good chunk of time on the ice. They produced well on every power play and penalty kill. “We got production from both,” Coach Eaves said of the Monsters’ special teams, “The power play got a goal. The penalty kill did a good job of killing a 5-on-3. So, those are aspects of the game we can look up and think we did a pretty good job.”

Two power plays back to back within the first five minutes of the second period led to the Monsters second goal of the night. In typical Adam Clendening fashion, he launched a shot from the point. The puck hit a few people and sticks on the way to the net and dropped right in front of Cory Schneider, Julian Melchiori, and Paul Bittner. Melchiori just missed the puck with his stick which allowed Bittner to pop the puck into the back of the net for the 2-0 lead over the Devils.

As Coach Eaves said, things got a little goofy in the third period. They began to abandon the fundamentals in favor of aggressive play and hard hits. Despite all of this, the Monsters were able to seal the deal with 15 seconds left in the game when Barach launched the puck into the Devil’s empty net.

Coming away with a win in the tight North Division is quite a big deal. To give you a better idea of how tight the race is in the North, the 8th seed is just six points out of the final playoff spot. “It’s so tight. We can see where we need to get,” Coach Eaves said of the tight race for playoffs in the North, “Against this team it’s like a four point game, a four point swing. So, we need to make it work by playing well on Sunday.”

Currently the Monsters sit in 7th and the Devils sit in 8th. As you can see, Sunday’s game will be an important match for both teams to win. Putting even more distance between the Monsters and last place with allow the team to have a bit of breathing room once the weekend ends. When Sunday rolls around, look for both teams to come out swinging and playing like their live’s depend on it.

3 Stars

1st - Veini Vehvilainn (Cleveland Monsters) - 34 shots faced, 34 saves, 60:00 TOI, Shutout
2nd - Derek Barach (Cleveland Monsters) - 2g, 0a
3rd - Paul Bittner (Cleveland Monsters) - 1g, 0a

Monsters Lines

Stefan Matteau - Derek Barach - Trey Fix-Wolansky
Marko Dano - Calvin Thurkauf - Jakob Lilja
Paul Bittner - Sam Vigneault - Kole Sherwood
Brett Gallant - Maxime Fortier - Bryan Moore

Monsters Pairs

Gabriel Carlsson - Adam Clendening
Steve Johnson - Dillon Simpson
Anton Karlsson - Doyle Somerby