Monsters down Icehogs 6-4
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The Cleveland Monsters defeated the Rockford IceHogs by a final score of 6-3 from Rocket Mortgage Field House in Cleveland, Ohio. It was by far the best game Cleveland has played all year, which was very impressive. They started the game with only ten healthy forwards and by time the first period ended it would be down to nine. 

The Monsters dominated the first period. Nick Lappin's first goal of the season happened just 3:10 into the game. Carson Meyer backhanded a pass to Nick Lappin, who was in the slot. He fired a wrist high glove side to beat Collin Delia. The goal came while Delia was without his stick, which he was missing for a solid sixty seconds prior to the goal. The next shift Nick Lappin played, he got on a partial breakaway when he was tripped up and went hard into the boards. He didn't return to the game, leaving the Monsters with nine healthy forwards for a majority of game. 

Exactly four minutes after the first Monsters' goal, they scored their second. Fan favorite Brett Gallant made his first goal of the year. Carson Meyer was battling for the puck along the right side boards in the Monsters' offensive zone. Meyer found Brett Gallant who was making his way the slot; Gallant received the puck and fired from the edge of the right face off circle and scored. Shortly after this, Dillion Simpson was injured in front of the Monsters' net. He left the game but returned a short time later. Simpson did come out for the second period but missed the remainder of the game. The Monsters had a major chance in the last half of the first period. Delia went out of the net to play the puck; he tried to clear the puck. However, Adam Helewka stopped it right in the slot. He fired a shot out which Delia saved on a diving stop. A huge rebound was given but a goal was denied by Rockford's Cody Franson who made the save while Delia was still trying to gather himself. 

Rockford cut the Cleveland lead to one 6:25 into the second period. Cody Franson shot the puck from the blue line. Kivlenieks made the initial save but gave up a rebound, which was picked up by MacKenzie Entwistle who scored right over Kivlenieks' pads. 

Zach Jordan scored his first professional goal at 11:42 of the second shortly after the Monsters were done killing a penalty. Evan Polei passed from the Monsters' defensive zone to Zach Jordan, who just got out of the penalty box. He skated in and beat Delia five hole. Cleveland then added another goal with less than two minutes to go to the intermission. Connor McDonald fired a slap shot from the blue line, the puck went over Delia's pads and onto the stick of Tyler Sikura who scored. 

Rockford got the first goal of the third period 3:20 in. Dylan McLaughin entered the Monsters' defensive zone with speed. He went forehand to backhand, but he didn't shoot backhanded; instead, he left the puck for Matej Chalupa, who scored. It was a nice play. Cleveland took all of thirty-two seconds to answer back. Nathan Gerbe won an offensive face off back to Gavin Bayreuther, who then passed to Trey Fix-Wolansky. Trey fired from above the right face off goal, squeezing it past Delia making it 5-2. The goal came on the power play just eight seconds into it.

Rockford didn't go away quietly though. As at 5:19 they once again reduced the lead to two. Alec Regula received a pass from Nicholas Beaudin. Regula, with some nice stick handling, cut towards the net and backhanded the puck past Kivlenieks to make it 5-3. Trey Fix Wolansky would get his second power play goal of the game at 14:52. He shot from the right face off circle and hit it off the post and in. 

Following up on keys of the game: The first key was smarter decision by the goalies when handling the puck. When Matiss Kivlenieks played the puck, he was very smart about it. Second, Get back to going in front of the net when in the offensive zone. Cleveland definitely did a good job at scoring up close. Third was to take advantage of the power play. Cleveland had no power plays. 

Cleveland started Matiss Kivlenieks in net he stopped 27/30 shots faced Rockford countered with Colin Delia who stopped 24/30 shots faced. The first star went to Trey Fix Wolansky with two goals, second star Carson Meyer with three assists and Tyler Sikura got the third star with a goal and an assist. 

The Monsters played a gritty game. Playing fantastic hockey all game especially with a short bench. Coach Eaves had this to say on the teams effort " they should be really proud of themselves. They rose to the occasion tonight. Playing hard, and smart hockey." Something else noticeable was the new comers getting on the score sheet tonight. Coach Eaves said " the games finally starting to slow down for them. The first few games they were just shaking their heads but now there starting to put things together".

Next up for Cleveland is a rematch with the Rockford IceHogs Sunday afternoon from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio. It will conclude four games straight with Rockford as well as finishing the season series between the two clubs. Let's look at the players to watch and keys to the game. My player to watch is Brett Gallant. He looked incredible in Saturday's night game. He got his first goal of the season, player smart hockey, and fired off hard shots at the Rockford netminder. First key: play conservatvely. With playing with a short bench Saturday night and more than likely will again, we will be tired, especially with the quick turn around. 2. Continue to be in front of the Rockford net. Cleveland did a fantastic job at being in front of the IceHogs' net to score on rebounds and screen Delia. Finally, continue to help the goalie. The Monsters did a great job at helping Kivlenieks when he needed it. 
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​POSTED 02/27/2021 23:07
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