The Cleveland Monsters bounced back from Saturday’s disappointing loss to defeat the Texas Stars by a score of 5-2. This was the third game in four days between both teams. Monsters coach Mike Eaves said that “This was a three game weekend, a mini-series if you will” and by the end of this one neither team really seemed to like each other all that much as things got quite chippy throughout.
After fighting through some sloppy play and what appeared to be an overall lack of urgency, the Mosnters got on the board 2:38 into the period thanks to Tyler Sikura. This was Sikura’s third goal of the season and was assisted by Gavin Bayreuther (5) and Adam Helewka (1). Sikura was right in the crease and managed to score after the puck hung around the goal a little longer than it should have.
Just a few moments later Nathan Gerbe doubled the Monsters lead with his third goal of the season. Gerbe was able to fire the puck right past Tomas Sholl from a pretty good distance away from the goal. Bayreuther registered his second assist of the game while Sikura helped out a fellow Monster this time around with his fifth assist of the season.
With 11:08 played in the period Evan Polei gave the Monsters a 3-0 lead. Polei flipped the puck into the net with an impressive backhand for his second goal of the season. Bayreuther managed yet another 1st period assist, his third with Andrew Peeke also assisting on the play.
Polei commented on the goal following the game, “Not sure what the goalie was doing but I’ll take it”.
The Monsters dominated in the shots on goal department as they finished with 14 attempts on goal while Texas had only 6. This difference certainly played a factor in the early 3-0 lead for Cleveland.
The Stars were not ready to roll over as 3:47 into the period Texas managed to get a goal back as Nick Baptiste fired the puck past Thiessen on a rebound to cut into the Monsters lead.
With 13:35 left in the period there was a little brawl involving Derek Barach, Justin Scott, and Anthony Louis who were all called for roughing.
Texas’ Adam Mascherin scored with a little over 11 minutes to play in the period to cut the Monsters lead in half from 2 to 1. The once comfortable 3-0 lead for the Monsters became an uncomfortable 1 goal differential.
Due to an Adam Clendening interference penalty the Monsters were on the penalty kill late in the period with Texas having all the momentum. Thiessen was able to survive Texas’ assault on goal as he kept the Stars from tying the game. A couple of well-timed clearances from Cleveland played a major role in their successful penalty kill.
A late slashing penalty gave Cleveland a brief power play at the end of the period. This was a huge break for Cleveland as momentum was clearly on the side of Texas and it did not look like that was going to change unless a penalty was called.
The Monsters advantage in the shot department remained, but the gap closed as Texas 13 shots on goal compared to Cleveland’s 12.
With Texas seemingly crawling back in the period things were starting to look like Saturday night’s 4-3 loss. Mike Eaves said after the game that “2nd periods like that are going to happen” and “they’re inevitable, it’s about how you solve the riddle”.
Cleveland carried over their one man advantage into the 3rd period and were not able to manage a quality shot on goal during that span. A great opportunity for the Monsters to get some meaningful shot attempts went by the wayside.
With a 7:46 gone in the 3rd Polei scored his 2nd goal of the game and 3rd of the season to give the Monsters a two goal lead. Carson Meyer (5) and Thomas Schemitisch (3) assisted Polei on the goal. This goal could not have come at more crucial time for Cleveland as Texas was clearly in the driver’s seat momentum wise.
With 2:59 left to play Sikura added his 2nd goal of the game while Bayreuther got his 4th assist of the game. Sikrua’s goa was of the empty net variety and came from Cleveland’s defensive zone as Texas pulled their goalie in an attempt to cut into Cleveland’s lead.
The Monsters held a 10-7 lead in shots on goal during the final period of play.
Monsters forward Tyler Sikura scored his 100th AHL point in the win.
When asked about the difference in Sunday’s win versus Saturday’s loss coach Mike Eaves stated the the team was “conscious of our play at both blue lines” and “took good care of the puck”. Considering that Cleveland held on to the lead this team this proved to be true. Eaves would later add, “A lot more better things tonight which allowed us to pass the test”.