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The Cleveland Monsters gameday experience

A tweet-heavy review of my first trip to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to watch the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate

I woke up on Saturday morning, looked at Twitter, and decided to spontaneously drop $200. I decided to go to my first Cleveland Monsters game.

I did this for three reasons. First off, I was already going to the Browns game Saturday with some of my roommates, and since the Monsters game started at noon, I’d still have over an hour to tailgate in between. Secondly, I’ve never been to a Monsters game, and tickets were $10 on SeatGeek. And finally, I knew I was scheduled for an off-day post this week and had no clue what to write about. So enjoy my review of the Cleveland Monsters gameday experience.

Parking

This is the one area I have to give some criticism. Unlike Nationwide Arena, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (home of the Monsters and the NBA’s Cavaliers) and Progressive Field (the MLB’s Guardians) didn’t really have any on-site parking to speak of. The main lot I spotted on Google Maps was mid-conversion into some type of apartment, and most other lots were charging between $50 and $70. Now, I get that this isn’t the Monsters’ fault, per se, but it was still much more of a hassle than I anticipated. I ended up parking in an RTA lot for the day for $20, but that spot did require a 15 minute walk that made arriving to the game a tighter schedule than I was comfortable with. Again, not blaming the Monsters for this at all, and prices were probably boosted with the Browns playing the same day, but it is something to note if you plan to go to a game.

Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

RMFH was a great, charming building. The perimeter aisles were significantly roomier than any other stadium I’d been in, and the trapezoidal shape created some natural open areas not dissimilar from NWA’s southwest entrance. The dine-in options were almost exclusively local eateries (aside from a Dippin’ Dots stand; no complaints on that!). I went with a set of boneless wings, fries, and drink from the Quaker Steak and Lube stand, which came up to $30 but was also significantly more food than I anticipated. I didn’t even finish all of the wings, despite them being pretty good!

The other thing to note about RMFH is the lack of a main merchandise area like NWA has with the Blueline. It’s more like the Nationwide’s 200 level; several little stands in the same space that one of the restaurants would take up. The selection was also decently limited, but part of that is likely due to the Monsters not being the main tenant and the Cavs also having a game eight hours later. Despite that, I was able to grab the Monsters’ black jersey during the first intermission for $140. It was the last XXL, so if any of my larger friends were also looking for a black Monsters jersey at Saturday’s game, sorry about that.

Arena atmosphere

Firstly, I have to mention a group of a dozen or so teens I deemed “The Sweezey Supporters” in the next section over. Whenever defenseman Billy Sweezey stepped on the ice or did anything mildly interesting, the Sweezey Supporters responded with a chorus of cheers. When he wasn’t on the ice, they did their best to get a “We want Billy!” chant going. I don’t know why they did this, and I don’t think they’re there every game, but that didn’t stop me and the rest of the section from fully joining by the third period.

I think the Sweezey Supporters helped to brew a more casual, personal atmosphere than I’m used to being in at sporting events. The little group of people around me talked about how our NHL teams were doing (there was a pair of Pens fans and a Leaf fan), where in the state we’re from, plans for afterwards, and more over the course of the game, which was a fun change from the more focused vibe NWA can have.

However, I found their MC to be a overly-energetic and borderline annoying. It made a stark contrast to the vibe in our little corner of the rink. That’s more of a taste thing, and I could see how he’d be endearing to kids (which the AHL is definitely more geared towards than the NHL), but I prefer Mike Todd’s more casual style. The good news is that there were a lot less sponsored mini-gameshows during the commercial breaks, which I enjoyed.

Finally, like their NHL counterparts, the Monsters know how to do goal celebrations. Their foghorn is loud, a constant drone followed by a series of blasts matching the number of goals the Monsters have scored. It’s not as loud as the cannon, but it feels has a similar, awesome rattling effect. We heard a lot of that foghorn, especially in the third. Also, Skillet’s “Monster” is a killer goal song, and it’s been stuck in my head for the last three days.

The game

Finally, we should probably talk about the game itself. This will obviously vary the most from trip to trip, but that being said, it feels wrong to have a review without a recap, no?

First Period - The Monsters got in a quick hole, but Emil Bemstrom quickly tied it at 1-1 less than a minute later, finishing a beautiful powerplay setup from Jiricek and Fix-Wolansky. However, Laval would score again 30 seconds later, and again in the last minute to take a 3-1 lead into the intermission.

Second Period - The lead was chopped in half quickly, as Brandon Davidson earned his first goal as a Monster 16 seconds in, before Bemmer got another powerplay goal at the 3:04 mark to tie things up. However, this was countered by Laval’s own PPG to make it 4-3 Rocket two minutes later. After two straight periods with three goals in the first six minutes followed by 13 minutes of radio silence, the Monsters were able to avoid another last-minute goal to keep the deficit at one.

Third Period - Cleveland put on a clinic in the third. Trey Fix-Wolansky at 1:34, again on the powerplay. Brent Gallant at 8:41, on a tip from Billy Sweezey. Josh Dunne at 13:45 for the touchdown. And Joona Luoto with an empty netter for the extra point. Monsters win 7-4!

Thanks for reading, and if you have any further questions, ask away below! Note that when this is posted I’ll still be at work for another three hours, but they’ll be answered eventually.