CLEVELAND, Ohio– The Cleveland Monsters looked to sweep the Ontario Reign during the weekend slate after taking the first game by a final score of 5-3 on Friday night. The Monsters would be able to jump out to a 3-0 lead, holding off the Reign late to secure the victory. Today was completely different for the Monsters, who fell behind early.
Just five and a half minutes into the game, the Reign would strike first. Sean Walker would fire a shot from just inside the blue line that would zoom past the left side of Matiss Kivlenieks. The Reign would then add to their lead about a minute later when Michael Mersch would work down towards Kivlenieks’ right side and beat the Cleveland goaltender for the marker coming at the 6:46 mark of the first period. Mersch had quite the first frame, finding himself on the ice just a couple of minutes into the contest after blocking a shot. A little bit later into the frame, Brett Gallant and Jason Devane would agree to exchange in a battle of fisticuffs on the ice, both men throwing hooks and haymakers before being separated. The Monsters couldn’t capitalize off what could have been a spark for Cleveland, as Ontario took the two-goal lead into the middle stanza.
The Monsters would get back into the contest midway through the second period, as Carter Camper served up a beautiful pass for Tyler Motte near the top of the slot. Motte wouldn’t hesitate, firing a shot right past Ontario’s goaltender Jack Campbell for the first Cleveland marker of the day at the 7:46 mark. That would be the lone goal of what was a rather chippy period of hockey. The Monsters would serve their second fighting penalty of the day after Sam Vigneault got into a scrap with Kevin Gravel that sent both men to the sin bin. The fight was Vigneault’s first professional fight, though it didn’t help the Monsters by not having one of their better passers out there.
In by far their best period of the day opportunity-wise, the Monsters couldn’t find the back of the net. The team would circle Campbell and hammer him with shots from all angles in an attempt to find the equalizer, though to no prevail. Cleveland would fall by a final score of 2-1, giving Ontario their first win of the year.
After the game, Head Coach John Madden discussed how a counterproductive first period set the team back and made it hard to recover.
“Four penalties, gonna be hard to get anything going. You take away the penalties, we still threw at least four or five scoring chances on it but it just takes momentum out of your game. Whether we agree with the calls or not, we gotta stay out of the box. No team in the league can take four penalties in the first period and expect to have a good first period.”
Madden was happy with the team’s closing efforts, stating that ‘it was a tough game to get going on’.
“I thought the second period we played better and the third period we played pretty good as well.”
The Monsters drop to 3-3-1 following the Saturday matinee game and take on Rockford Tuesday night at The Q.