Monsters fall to Texas 4-3 
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The Texas Stars defeated the Cleveland Monsters by a final score of 4-3 Saturday night from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio. The Monsters had a 3-0 lead at one point but the lead shrank and then disappeared.  

Cleveland got out of the gate strong Saturday, playing one of the best periods of hockey we have seen all year. Bjorgvik Holm fed a puck up to Kole Sherwood who got around the Stars' Anthony Lewis and Riley Tufte in neutral ice to leave him alone with the Stars' goaltender; he took a shot from the slot and scored, beating Colton Point above his blocker. Cleveland then continued to push, trying to extend their lead; they got close on the first power play of the game when they rang a puck off the post. Texas made a quick push at the end of the period but didn't benefit from it. Cleveland dominated most of the first period, outshooting Texas 13-5. The American Hockey League doesn't track time on attack but if they did, Cleveland would have had a huge advantage as they spent the majority of the period peppering Colton Point with shots. 

Cleveland brought the momentum they had the first period into the second period, scoring just 2:53 in. Evan Polei made a beautiful pass out of of the corner to the slot where Justin Scott was; he shot the puck and the save was made by Colton Point, but Tyler Angle stuffed home the rebound through Point's five hole. The Monsters were not satisfied with the 2-0 lead and extended it to three just thirty-five seconds later. Liam Foudy stopped a Stars clearing attempt at the blue line and chipped to the middle to Tyler Angle, who took the puck to the goal line; he dropped a pass back for Foudy, who scored his first goal of the season.

Texas was able to cut the lead to 3-1 at 7:51 of the period. Nick Baptiste drove to the net and got Brad Thiessen to commit to trying to make a save; he then passed across the crease to Adam Mascherin, who had an easy tap in. After this, the momentum really seemed to swing in the Stars' direction as they carried the pace for the rest of the period. Cleveland got whistled for too many men at 18:59 of the second - a call that was shaky at best as it hit a Monsters' skate as he was climbing over the bench. Texas scored a short time later. Brad Thiessen was out of his net playing the puck, but the Stars got the puck to Josh Melnick first, who was in front, and he was able to score on the wide open net. Post goal, while Brad was laying on the ground, Nick Baptiste jumped over him, andevery Monster on the ice took exception to this. Everyone jumped into a little rough stuff at center, although no penalties came from it. 

Texas continued their momentum in the third period, scoring 4:23 in. Riley Damiani carried the puck into the offensive zone, shot the puck that went off the post, and took a wicked bounce off of it, carrying all the way out to Nick Baptiste who was above the left face off circle. He fired and scored to tie things up at three. 

It appeared that Cleveland had lost all energy during the second intermission. However, shortly after the third Texas goal they got a power play, then they got a 5-on-3 for fourteen seconds, but they weren't able to convert on this. Thomas Harley cleared the puck during the Stars' penalty kill but at center it landed on former Monster Derek Barach's stick, who took a one-time slap shot from the slot and scored to give the Stars their first lead of the series at 4-3. This ended up being the final score.

After the two early goals by Cleveland, things did not go their way at all. Cleveland was on the wrong end of some no calls and some awful officiating that saw multiple players complain. When Eaves was asked about the emotions of the game, he had this to say, "after the scrum to end the second period, that was the first thing we talked about, emotions. It was the highest it's been all year tonight." Something else that didn't go well was the power play, but Eaves had a different view, "everything that you would want to check off on the power play happened besides getting the puck into the net. But other than that, we checked off everything we needed to."

Texas started Colton Point in net; he stopped 32/35 shots faced; Cleveland countered with Brad Thiessen, who stopped 19/23 shots faced. The first star of the game went to Derek Barach, who got the game winning goal; the second star went to Nick Baptiste with a goal and an assist; and the third star went to Liam Foudy with a goal. 

Looking back at keys to the game: 1. Improve on getting out of our own zone. Cleveland improved on getting out of their own zone. 2. Play physical. Cleveland definitely brought the physicality this game. 3. Improve on the power play. Unfortunately, Cleveland didn't improve on the power play and even questionably looked worse than Thursday night's game. They were looking for the perfect play. The player to watch was Brad Thiessen. Brad played a great first but had a couple tough breaks in the second, getting caught in bad positions and being out of his net. 

Next up for Cleveland is the final game game of the three-game set with the Stars with puck dropping at 4pm. Let's look at keys to the game and player to watch: 1. The power play needs to be better in order for us to win. The power play was once again not pretty Saturday night. 2. Keep it simple. Towards the end of the game, Cleveland tried to find the perfect shot but couldn't. 3. We need to get the puck into our zone better. Once Cleveland got the puck in their zone, they were fine, but getting into their zone was a battle. My player to watch is Tyler Angle, who had two goals and an assist in the two games against Texas.
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​POSTED 03/28/2021 00:44
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