Things did not go well for the Cleveland Monsters in their first game in two weeks. Cleveland lost to the Grand Rapids Griffins by a score of 5-2. When asked about the long time between games, Monsters coach Mike Eaves stated that “actually had some good practices”, later adding “but there’s no substitute for playing”. That last quote really hit the mark as far as how the game unfolded.
Early in the 1st period the Monsters were able to get into the offensive zone fairly frequently. The issue was that when they were in their defensive zone play would get sloppy and Grand Rapids would gain control of the puck. While the Griffins managed to put pressure on Cleveland, nothing came of it early. However the Monsters were not able to score on three early shots on goal.
With just under nine minutes left in the period the Monsters got on the board with a goal from Dillon Simpson, his third on the year.
Trey Fix-Wolansky and Nathan Gerbe would assist on the goal, both are credited with their sixth assist of the season.
Even though the Monsters held the advantage on the scoreboard after the 1st, it was Grand Rapids who appeared to finding their groove. The Griffins were looking like a well oiled machine over the final few minutes of the period and Cleveland was lucky to come away unscathed. Cleveland did manage to hold a slight advantage in the shots on goal department even after the barrage from Grand Rapids.
The Griffins did not waste any time to tie things up as Givani Smith scored 51 seconds into the period tying the game. Grand Rapids clearly carried the momentum from the end of the 1st period into the 2nd and it showed.
Just a few minutes later the Monsters retook the lead thanks to a slapshot goal from Wyatt Newpower. This was the first goal of the season for Newpower. Tyler Angle and Kole Sherwood assisted on the play, their second and first assist on the season respectively.
This goal was crucial for the Monsters as it slowed down the Griffins momentum. The onslaught that appeared to be on the horizon from Grand Rapids had to be put on hold as they had to regroup and readjust their game plan.
The detour for Grand Rapids didn’t last, with 9:40 left in the 2nd the Griffins managed to tie the game. Givani Smith scored his second goal of the game, this one off a rebound that he put top shelf over Brad Thiessen. There was really no way for Thiessen to stop that goal as it was an impressive effort from Smith.
The Griffins would take their first lead of the game with 4:33 left to play in the period. Chase Pearson was able to score easily on a breakaway as Grand Rapids retook the momentum in the period.
Grand Rapids ended the 2nd period with the lead on the scoreboard and shots on goal. The Griffins were firmly in control and did not plan on relinquishing it. The Monsters only managed 3 shots on goal compared to the Griffins 12. While only a surface number, it is a perfect example why Grand Rapids scored three times in the period.
When asked about the three shots on goal in the 2nd period Mike Eaves stated that “they had ideas about what they wanted to do” and that “they turned the puck over”. Ultimately the inability to convert and keep control of the puck played into the score differential in the period.
Grand Rapids extended their lead to two goals on another goal from Chase Pearson. Pearson was able to take a rebound from a Dominik Shine shot on goal and put it past Thiessen as Grand Rapids firmly took control of the game.
A fight between Dylan McIlrath and Evan Polei broke out 8:46 into the 3rd period, each receiving five minute penalties. The Monsters would find themselves on a power play shortly after, but nothing would come of either moment. In the end the fight did not energize the team as maybe some would have hoped.
The Griffins would score an empty net goal with 1:27 left to play to make it a 5-2 score, ensuring a Monsters loss.
Even though the Monsters were able to attempt double-digit shots on goal in the period, they were not able to make it count.
Notes about the game
Brad Thiessen started in goal for the Monsters, but was not originally supposed to play. Mike Eaves said as much following the game, “Brad came to the rink today thinking he would be in the stands”. Eaves later added that “Brad was calm, showed veteranness”. Considering he saved 23 of 27 shots on goal, that certainly qualifies.