Four unanswered goals leads Monsters to 4-2 win 
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The Cleveland Monsters defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins by a final score of 4-2 Saturday night from Rocket Mortage Field house in Cleveland, Ohio. Four unanswered goals led the Monsters to victory. It was a big night in the land with it being Hockey Fight Cancer night. It also brought the North American debut of highly regarded Columbus goalie prospect Daniil Tarasov. 

Grand Rapids would capitalize on their first power play of the game. Ole Bjorgvik- Holm was in the box for hooking. Grand Rapids entered the zone with a 2 on 1, Riley Barber waited for Monsters defenseman Gavin Bayreuther to layout to block the across ice pass, he held the puck till and entered the slot and beat Tarasov high glove side. Grand Rapids would get another goal on a wrap-around attempt by Mathias Brome he tried to pass in front of the net but instead, it went off of Gavin Bayreuther skate and in. Things got interesting with less than a minute to go in the period. Right after the face of after the Griffins goal Kole Sherwood laid a big hit on a Griffin. He went to the box, and Nathan Gerbe had some choice words for the official. Those choice words got him a two-minute minor and 10-minute misconduct/ game misconduct for abuse of an official. With that, the Griffins would have a full 5/3 for two minutes. The remainder 37 seconds of the first period the Griffins didn't do much with.

Despite giving up his first two goals in his first period of play Daniil Tarasov made several great saves. His best came when Dominic Turgeon got on a breakaway and backhanded the puck, Tarasov made a great glove save. This wasn't a great period however for the Monsters. They controlled the puck a lot of the period but looked sluggish on defense. Daniil Tarasov had to deal with multiple odd-man rushes/ breakaways in his first period in North America. 

The remainder 1:23 left on the power play for the Griffins started the second period. Cleveland was able to successfully kill it. Not long after the penalty was killed, Kole Sherwood laid a big-time hit on Griffins Gustav Lindstrom. With this being Sherwood's third or fourth hard hit of the night the Griffins had had enough and Turner Elson stepped up to fight Sherwood. Turner took the overwhelming decision in the fight. However, between the massive 5/3 penalty kill and the fight, the Monsters got the spark they needed. 

Cleveland launched their comeback campaign 4:22 into the second while on the power play. Cleveland and Grand Rapids were engaged in a puck battle against the boards to the side of the Griffins net, the puck got loose out to Adam Clendening who shot the puck from about the right faceoff circle his shot went wide and onto the stick of Adam Helewka who fed the puck down to the goal line to Tyler Sikura; Sikura then centered a pass in front to Tyler Angle who scored. Just over three minutes later Cleveland would once again score on the power play. Gavin Bayreuther was at the point and passed to the edge of the left faceoff circle to Adam Helewka who one-timed a slap shot it deflected off the stick of Tyler Sikura and in. Cleveland wouldn't be satisfied with a tied game. As then at 12:36 Cleveland would take the lead. Ole Bjorgvik-Holm dumped the puck in from center, it took a wicked bounce off the boards and into the slot where Kole Sherwood would waste no time bouncing on the loose puck and scoring top glove side. This gave Cleveland their first lead of the evening. 

Cleveland had to kill 1:53 remaining on a penalty from the second period to open up the third. They did that successfully. Adam Clendening shot the puck from the edge of the left faceoff circle the puck was knocked down in front by Kole Sherwood, Sherwood picked up the loose puck and score to make it a 4-2 Monsters lead. The goal came at the 4:44 mark of the third period. Gavin Bayreuther won a puck battle along the benches and gave Riley barber an extra shove. Barber slashed him back and the gloves came off. It was a fight that saw each throw several punches before hitting the ice. The issue was Barber kept hanging on to the jersey of Bayreuther once the refs stepped in and threw several jabs while Gavin was on the ground. At the end of the game, there was a little scuffle as in the dying seconds the Griffins fired off a last-second shot which Adam Clendening took exception to. 

Coach Eaves was impressed by Daniil Tarasov Saturday night " he definitely made a good first impression. He made a couple of big saves going side to side" Coach Eaves also commented on the absences of Nathan Gerbe for 2/3 of the game " it's good that we have young guys that can step up in that situation." 

Daniil Tarasov was asked about the second that went off a teammate's stick and in " I didn't let it phase. Things happen, I just moved forward." When he was asked about what it felt like to get his first win in his first game with a new team and the biggest differences between the KHl and the Ahl he had this to say " it feels good to get the win. I was just excited to get going. The biggest difference is it's a faster game and you have to be ready to face shots from everywhere."

Following up on keys to the game and player to watch. 1. A repeat of Wednesday night's performance. Cleveland got off to a shaky start the first twenty minutes but the final forty minutes was a repeat of Wednesday's. 2. Take fewer minor penalties. Cleveland had four minor penalties which was an improvement from Wednesday's game where they had seven minors. 3. Help out the goalie, especially with Tarasov making his debut. Cleveland let Tarasov face a lot of odd-man rushes in his first game as a Monster. My player to watch was Daniil Tarasov. He looked great. It seems he likes to play the puck as he was out of his net a lot corralling loose pucks and settling pucks down. Another observation was he made a lot of good glove saves and seems very confident with his glove. He also made multiple saves moving across the crease. 

Grand Rapids started Pat Nagle in net stopped he 21 out of 25 shots faced. Cleveland countered with Daniil Tarasov in the net he stopped 27 out 29 shots faced in his North American debut. Tarasov's performance earned him the first star of the game. The second star went to Kole Sherwood with two goals and third star Tyler Sikura with a goal and an assist. 

Next up for Cleveland is a rematch with the Grand Rapids Griffins Friday Night from Rocket Mortgage Field House at 7 pm. Let's look at keys to the game and players to watch. 1. We need the revival of the power play to stay. After having several rough nights on the power play, the good power play that we saw at the beginning of the season returned. Even though Cleveland only scored on 2/5 power plays, they controlled long stretches in the Griffins zone. It was also encouraging to see it when Nathan Gerbe was missing for all but one of the power plays. 2. Get guys in front. This can not be said enough. Cleveland was fantastic at getting redirections on pucks Saturday night. To have continued success getting guys in front will be huge. Finally, get in the Griffins' head. It seemed like once the fight happened and the physicality picked up Grand Rapids was too into the physical side of things. My player to watch will be Kole Sherwood. He had a goal and was busy trying to get in front of the net and laying big hits.. 
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​POSTED 04/02/2021 23:51
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