Americans slay Monsters 4-3
BY ANDREW GUARINO
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The Rochester Americans defeated the Cleveland Monsters Saturday night by a final score of 4-3 in a shootout. As the saying goes, "don't judge a book by it's cover". Rochester was starting Billy Christopoulos in net; he came into the night with a 8.06 GAA and 725% save percentage. But he wouldn't be an easy riddle to crack Saturday night.
The first period between the two teams was fast and furious. Cliff Pu of the Monsters took a high sticking penalty in the Monsters' defensive zone just 1:30 into the game, which sent Cleveland to the kill. Rochester took and won the offensive zone draw to Brandon Hawkins. Hawkins passed the puck right on the tape of Jean-Sebastien Dea, who wrapped it around the net and tucked it right under the blocker of Brad Thiessen. It took all of eight seconds on the power play for Rochester to score. About half way through the first, Dalton Smith leveled Jake Christiansen into the boards behind the Rochester net. Brett Gallant took exception to this and challenged Smith immediately. It was a good fight between the two, each landing a couple of good punches.
Period two featured goals, goals and more goals – a total of four between the two teams. Cleveland opened the second period scoring at 6:24. Tyler Angle received a pass from Thomas Schemitsch off the rush and he shot the puck from the left side of the net; Billy Christopoulos made the initial save. However, after the save, the puck was loose in the crease where Cliff Pu found it and stuffed it past Christopoulos, who was laying in the crease trying to freeze the puck. Just under three minutes later Cleveland took their first lead of the game. This was one of those weird goals. Tyler Angle entered the o zone with speed and fired off a shot that hit off Jost Dunne, causing it to go into the net. It was a very weird goal.
Rochester didn't let Cleveland enjoy the lead for long as at 11:35 they tied the game. Patrick Polino tip-toed along the blue line with the puck before firing off a shot that found its way into the back of the net. There was heavy traffic in front of the net, which seemed to block Brad Thiessen's view.
Cleveland went to the break with the lead, however, as at 17:52 they scored once again. Jake Christiansen did some footwork as he entered the Monsters offensive zone; he shot the puck from the slot and it beat Christopoulos top glove side.
The Americans came out guns a blazing for the third period, doing everything they could to tie the game. After several opportunities, Rochester was able to get the equalizer at 9:36 of the third. Brendan Warren got in close on Brad Thiessen before passing to John-Sebastian Dea across the crease, who poked it home. Zach Jordan had a partial breakaway with under 60 seconds left to go in the game, but he couldn't convert so we went to overtime for the fifth time this year.
Overtime ended up being pretty crazy. For Cleveland, Cliff Pu shot the puck in close on Billy Christopoulos. Christopoulos made the initial save but the puck was loose in the crease and it appeared that the puck then crossed the goal line but the ref called no goal. In a normal year, you could review that call but with some teams playing in their practice arenas this year due to Covid-19 this was not possible. When asked about no replay review this year, Coach Eaves said, "I'll be happy when it's back, and consequently, I think the refs will be too. I think it's the second or third time we think calls should have gone the other way but we can't whine about it." Cleveland had a 2-1 with ten seconds left in overtime when Adam Helewka entered the zone and passed the puck across the crease to Jake Christiansen. Christiansen shot the puck but Billy Christopoulos made an amazing across crease save with his glove. This led to going to a shootout. Jean-Sebastian Dea ended up being the only scorer of the shootout, beating Brad high glove side in the second round. Cleveland had Tyler Angle, Cliff Pu, and Tyler Sikura all try but they failed to get the puck past Billy Christopoulos.
For the record: Brett Gallant is making his way up in the Monsters' record books. Gallant tied Justin Mercier Saturday night for fifth place in most games played as a Monster; each has dressed in 220. Gallant also creeped closer to taking the lead in all-time penalty minutes Saturday with his fight. He now sits at 519, just three back of Daniel Maggio.
Cleveland started Brad Thiessen in net; he stopped 16/19 shots faced and was 2/3 in the shootout. Rochester countered with Billy Christopoulos, who stopped 38/41 shots faced and was 3/3 in the shootout. Jean-Sebastian Dea earned the first star of the game with two goals and a shootout goal, which won the game; the second star went to Oskari Laaksonen with two assists; and the third star went to Tyler Angle with two assists.
Following up on keys to the game and the player to watch: 1. Clean up the penalties. Cleveland did a great job at this as they only had two minor penalties. 2. Convert on power play chances. Cleveland's power play looked possibly the worst it had all year. Cleveland couldn't get the puck into the zone and when they did, it wasn't for very long. When they had longer possessions of the puck they went back to passing the puck a lot. Eaves said, "the power play didn't take what it was given tonight. We tried to be fancy. We weren't very efficient." 3. Get guys in front of the net. Cleveland didn't seem to generate a lot of long stints in the offensive zone Saturday night and it didn't give them a chance to get guys in front of the net. My player to watch is Josh Dunne. Josh had a quiet night on the score sheet but he did fire off three shots and was a plus 2.
Next up for Cleveland is the Grand Rapids Griffins Tuesday night with puck drop scheduled for 7pm in Cleveland. They say the third time is the charm, right? Well, we can hope. This is the third time this game was supposed to happen. First, it was supposed to be February 28 against Rockford; then it was supposed to be played against the Griffins on April 9th, but it was postponed. So hopefully the third time will be the charm. Key number 1. Be ready for a tough physical game. This will be round 8/10 between the two clubs this year, and to say that they don't like each other would be a bit of an understatement. The two teams met this past Wednesday night and combined for 68 penalty minutes. 2. Cleveland needs to get bodies in front of the net. When the Monsters have been able to do this, they've been able to succeed, and we'll look to do that against a team who blocks a lot of shots. 3. Don't let Grand Rapids play their style of game. Grand Rapids likes to get in teams' heads and play physical. A couple games against the Monsters this year, Grand Rapids pushed and shoved after the whistle and laid big hits. These things got into the Monsters' head and they let the Griffins control the game. My player to watch will be Jake Christiansen. Hee had a goal in Saturday night's contest and had several scoring attempts
POSTED 05/08/2021 22:57