CLEVELAND, Ohio- Poetry in motion.
That’s what Sunday afternoon’s game at The Q felt like between the Cleveland Monsters and the Grand Rapids Griffins, as both teams were fighting for playoff position. For the Monsters, it was about getting one step closer to claiming a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs. For Grand Rapids, it was about trying to regain their top position in the Central after losing it to Chicago the night before following their loss to Cleveland.
The game started in a wacky way, as Cleveland earned a power play twenty-three seconds into the game after Axel Holmstrom was called for hooking. Unfortunately for Cleveland, the man advantage didn’t work out in their favor. Colin Campbell and Dominic Turgeon crashed the crease of goaltender Anton Forsberg, forcing a few shots at him before finally getting on to go forty-one seconds into the game. GrandRapids would make it a 2-0 game when Dominic Turgeon would score at the 14:07 mark of the first. Cleveland would rebound thirty seconds later with a goal by Alex Broadhurst, who fired the puck into the back of the net from the right side of Jared Coreau’s crease after his new teammate Vitaly Abramov set him up with a pass from behind the cage of Coreau. Cleveland would head into the break trailing 2-1.
The second stanza saw Vitaly Abramov show what he can do, as he really showed off his excellent end-to-end play in the middle frame. Abramov scored the lone goal in the frame, finding himself in the right spot to redirect the puck off of a Ryan Collins’ shot from the high slot at the 7:16 mark. It was Abramov’s first AHL goal as well as his second AHL point. Ryan Collins also scored his first AHL point with the assist on the goal. The teams headed into the break even at two apiece. The real story of the second was how the tensions flared between the two teams. Jordan Maletta and Joe Hicketts exchanged in a check battle and once Maletta laid a good check, Hicketts got upset and swung his stick like a 9-iron at the back of Maletta’s leg. A full-out brawl ensued, leading to Oleg Yevenko and Dan Renouf being ejected. The game’s intensity had been on display all afternoon but this altercation upped the tension between the two teams.
The third period was a wild twenty minutes to say the least. What seemed like it was the perfect ending to the game, Jordan Maletta broke away from the pack and beat Coreau for the goal at the 15:01 mark. Maletta raced past Hicketts to serve justice to the Griffins. Maletta spoke about the goal and night long battle with Hicketts after the game.
“We battled hard. He’s a competitor, I’m a competitor. Whatever happened earlier, we got over it…But it felt nice to get that puck by him.”
Right before the clock could strike midnight on the Griffins, however, Matthew Ford would intercept a pass in the slot and net the puck at the 19:42 mark of the third period. The Ford goal would send the game into overtime, as the teams were even at three.
After a scoreless overtime, the teams would head to a shootout. Anton Forsberg would stuff both shot attempts coming his way and the Monsters would make the most of their two shots, as Zac Dalpe and Markus Hannikainen would both beat Coreau for goals in the shootout. The Monsters prevailed in the shootout and would win the game by a score of 4-3.
The Monsters finish the regular season with two games against Manitoba at home Thursday and Friday night. In regards to playoff implications, it could come down to the final horn on Friday, as the Monsters and Charlotte are in a battle for the final playoff spot in the Central.