Monsters mauled by Griffins 5-2 
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Cleveland Monsters Saturday evening by a final score of 5-2. This was the Monsters' first game action in exactly two weeks due to Covid-19. Cleveland was scheduled to take on the Rochester Americans back on March 12 but "out of abundance of caution" the game was postponed. 

This is only the third game between the two clubs this year but the rivalry was quite obvious, as the first period saw a flurry of big hits from each team. Cleveland jumped out in front 11:01 into the first period. Dillion Simpson jumped on a puck in the middle of the slot and tried to slide the puck five hole past Pat Nagle. Nagle made the save but gave up a rebound which Simpson gathered and stuck it around him far side and scored to make it 1-0. Cleveland didn't score again in the period, but Trey Fix-Wolansky had a golden opportunity - he got around Griffins defenseman Dylan Mcllrath and shot the puck, but Pat Nagle denied him with the glove. Grand Rapids put the pressure on with less than 60 seconds to go in the second, firing off four shots, but Brad Thiessen was up for the challenge.

Grand Rapids brought the momentum that they ended the first period with into the second, scoring just 51 seconds in. Givani Smith took a slap slot from the blue that beat Brad Thiessen five hole. 

It looked like the Monsters had scored just thirty seconds later but the goal was ruled no good as the post was knocked off. It looked like Pat Nagle did it after it was tipped over, but regardless, it was ruled no goal. Cleveland regained the lead exactly three minutes into the second. Tyler Angle put the puck on a tee for Wyatt Newpower who slapped it past Pat Nagle to make it 2-1.

Grand Rapids once again tied the game up a little over halfway through the second. Dominic Turgeon tried to wrap around the net but the puck deflected off off Dillion Simpson's skate which prevented Brad from covering the puck and it was laying loose in the slot where Givani Smith picked it up and scored his second of the game. The Griffins took advantage of the Monsters' miscommunication on defense at 15:27 of the second period. Turner Elson passed the puck from the blue up to Chase Pearson, who got on a breakaway beating Thiessen high glove side to take the lead. Jake Christiansen tried to pass off the puck but missed and it lead to the Pearson breakaway. Grand Rapids dominated most of the second period, outshooting the Monsters 12-3. 

Cleveland came out sluggish to start the third period, which allowed Grand Rapids to take advantage of this 5:23 into the period. Dominik Shine was heading towards Brad Thiessen with no one in front of him and Ole Bjorgvik-Holm shoved him to the ground, creating a delayed penalty. Despite beating shoved, Shine got a shot off on which Thiessen made the save; however, he gave up a rebound on which Chase Pearson scored. Adam Clendening thought the play was dead and made no attempt to clear the rebound in front of the net. Evan Polei knew the team needed a spark and he decided to drop the gloves with Griffins' heavyweight Dylan Mcilrath. It was a lengthy scrape which saw each of the men connect with some punches and it ended in a draw. Grand Rapids added an empty net goal by Riley Barber to end the game. 

It should also be noted about midway through the third period, Kole Sherwood left the game after favoring his leg on the previous shift. Sherwood missed several games for the Monsters due to a leg injury. 

Cleveland started off strong in the first and showed promise the whole period. Unfortunately, the second and third periods were dominated by Grand Rapids. 

The Grand Rapids Griffins started Pat Nagle in net, who stopped 24/26 shots faced, and the Monsters countered with Brad Thiessen, who stopped 31/35 shots faced. First star of the game went to Chase Pearson with two goals, the second star went to Givani Smith with two goals, and the third star went to Wyatt Newspower with a goal. 

Looking back to my keys of the game and player to watch: These were supposed to be keys to the game and player to watch for the game last week versus Rochester, which got postponed due to Covid-19. I'm just going to carry them over. 1. Play like we did two weekends ago against the Chicago Wolves. Cleveland played really well at times, but they had stretches in the game where they played like they couldn't care less. 2. This was supposed to be Rochester specific, but we'll use it anyway. Get the Griffins to commit penalties. Cleveland didn't get the Griffins to commit a lot of penalties. 3. Don't commit penalties. Cleveland had no penalties in the game. Looking back at my player to watch who was Tyler Angle. Tyler looked great in Saturday's game. He played a good game, having one assist. He was noticeable off the puck laying hits, and trying to set up plays. 

Next up for the Monsters is a three-game set with the Texas Stars, who are 8-4-2 on the year. Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm Thursday night from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Let's look at the player to watch and keys to the game: 1. We need to keep guys out of the front of the net. Grand Rapids constantly had people either in Thiessen's crease or directly in front jumping on loose pucks and screening Brad from seeing the puck. 2. Help our goalie out. Brad was terrific Saturday night but his defense failed him quite a bit. You can't expect your goalie to bail you out all the time. 3. Play confident the whole game. Cleveland, after scoring their second goal Cleveland lacked confidence and seemed to just give up. The player to watch will be Kole Sherwood, who in his first game back from injury Saturday night, was very noticeable.
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​POSTED 03/20/2021 23:03
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