It was the third annual Purple Game for the Cleveland Monsters with benefits going to The American Cancer Society. Donning their purple jerseys which are put up for auction following the game, Cleveland took down the Griffins 4-2.
Even though there was some Controversy during the game, the Monsters were able to fight through the adversity and come away with a much needed win.
A few minutes into the period the Monsters had a 6-5 due to a delayed penalty call. While Cleveland did control the puck for a considerable period, their offensive attack was uninspired. There was zero sense of urgency and they did not seem intent on getting a shot on goal, which they did not. Cleveland’s power play was not much better as while they did attempt some shots on goal, not one had a legitimate chance of finding the back of the net.
A hooking penalty on Ole Bjorgvik-Holm at the 10:36 mark saw Cleveland go on the penalty kill. It did not take long for Grand Rapids to capitalize as Riley Barber got the Griffins on the board about 20 seconds later. Barber got the puck right in front of the net and shot it right past Tarasov with relative ease. The Grand Rapids power play could not have been drawn up any better.
With just 42.1 seconds left to play in the period Grand Rapids doubled their lead. The puck bounced off the skate of Gavin Bayreuther and went just past Tarasov into the net.
Cleveland found themselves in an unenviable situation with 37 seconds left to play in the period. Kole Sherwood was called for tripping while Nathan Gerbe received penalties for misconduct and game misconduct, leaving everyone to ask why do they scream at each other? The Monsters had to make some line swaps due to Gerbe’s hefty penalty. Adam Helewka was inserted into Gerbe’s spot while Carson Meyer took Helweka’s spot.
The shot differential between the two teams was only 1, but the quality of chances for Grand Rapids were significantly better and the 2-0 scoreline at the end of period showed just that.
The Monsters were able to weather the 5-on-3 storm as they did not allow a goal during their two-man deficit. Shortly after returning to full strength, Kole Sherwood slammed Turner Ellson into the boards resulting in a fight. After the brawl both players received five minute penalties for fighting.
Cleveland found themselves the benefactor of Grand Rapids of having too many men on the ice, resulting in a power play for the Monsters. Carson Meyer managed to capitalize on this opportunity as he found the back of the net, cutting the Griffins lead to just 1 at the 15:38 mark. Tyler Sikura and Adam Helewka were credited with assists on Meyer’s goal.
Finding themselves on a power play again the Monsters managed to capitalize for the second time in the period. This time it was Tyler Sikura who would score for Cleveland as they managed to tie the game at 2, a scenario which seemed highly unlikely when the period began. Sikura guided the puck past the goaltender off a shot from Adam Helewka This was the second assist for Helewka in the game, his fifth on the year, with Gavin Bayreuther notching his ninth of the year on the goal.
On a day in which Kole Sherwood chose violence, he decided to get involved in the offensive side of things. Sherwood scored from point blank range as he gave the Monsters a 3-2 lead with 7:24 to play in the period. This was Sherwood’s second goal of the season and was assisted by Ole Bjorgvik-Holm (2) and Luke Moncada (1). This was the first Cleveland goal that did not come on a power play.
With mere seconds left in the period Justin Scott was called for hooking, putting Cleveland on the penalty kill.
Cleveland’s penalty kill went to work and kept Grand Rapids off the board. There was an opportunity early in the period where the Griffins caught the Monsters during a line change, but some excellent defending put an end to the threat.
At the 15:16 mark Kole Sherwood scored his second goal of the game and third of season. Assisting on the goal was Adam Clendening (1) and Josh Dunne (1). This goal came at a perfect time for the Monsters as they extended their lead to two and were putting the pressure on the Griffins to respond.
A Zach Jordan tripping penalty saw the Monsters go on the penalty kill with 5:45 left to play in the game. This was in addition to Gavin Bayreuther’s penalty for fighting he received just moments prior.
With 1:54 left to play it was Kole Sherwood finding his way into another scuffle. His actions essentially said oh no, let’s go. Sherwood received two minutes for cross checking and two minutes for roughing. Considering the score and time left in the game it was a crucial penalty kill for Cleveland. Grand Rapids pulled their goaltender to give them a 6-4 advantage on the ice, but the Monsters were up to the challenge as they stifled their efforts as the game ended with a Cleveland victory.
Grand Rapids held a slight edge in shots on goal during the final period (9-6), with nothing coming of it. The Griffins edge in this area led to Grand Rapids finishing with two more shots on goal than Cleveland for the game (29-27). When all was said and done there were not doves crying in the building.
Daniil Tarasov made his AHL debut in net and was extremely impressive. Tarasov saved 25 of 27 shots in his first game with Cleveland and only one goal was truly his fault. The second Griffins goal was more accidental than anything and really cannot be charged to Tarasov. When asked about the goal Tarasov stated that through a translator that “he didn’t care much about it”. Coach Eaves said that it was “unfortunate for him” while adding that it “gives you a looksy into his mental makeup” and it was a “good first impression for sure”.
When asked about the message between the 1st and 2nd periods, coach Eaves said “We wore down playing these guys, not an easy task”. Eaves would later add that the “power play was the igniter”.