CLEVELAND, Ohio- The Cleveland Monsters braced themselves for the second meeting of the weekend against the Chicago Wolves, their Central Division foe. Cleveland was fresh off a thrilling 3-2 victory on Friday against the Wolves and looked to get above .500 in their campaign. Things were a tad different Saturday. Monsters Head Coach John Madden placed rookie net-minder Ivan Kulbakov in net for his first start and appearance of the year. With veteran Brad Thiessen out with an injury, Madden is currently testing his depth behind “Brick Wall” with Kulbakov and Matiss Kivlenieks, who shut down 36 of the 38 shots sent his way on Friday to earn his third win of the season in his tenth outing of the year. It was Kulbakov’s turn on Saturday.
The first period started almost identically, with some very similar traits. The Monsters had to fend off Chicago for a good portion of the frame. Cleveland was tasked with two penalties and killed them both successfully. Cleveland trailed in the shots-on-goal category, 9-6. And perhaps the biggest similarity of them all, both teams failed to score. While the twenty minutes did not create any goals, Cleveland definitely had some looks. When the Monsters found themselves inside their offensive zone, they were able to get a number of shots sent at Chicago goaltender Michael Leighton. Leighton defended every shot and the teams went into the break scoreless.
Much of the same occurred in the middle stanza, as the teams remained scoreless. Cleveland drew two penalties and were forced to yet again play a man down, giving Chicago a few chances to make the Monsters regret their time in the sin bin. However, much like the opening frame of play, the Monsters killed off their penalties and were able to put together a decent frame. Both sides once again went into the break scoreless through forty minutes of play.
Chicago blew the game open in the third period en route to a 3-0 victory. Tobias Lindberg got the Wolves going with a nifty play. Lindberg had his initial shot deflected at the point of attack but stuck with it, retrieving the puck to spin and fire it right past Kulbakov at the 7:35 mark of the frame. Paul Thompson scored the second goal at the 12:23 mark off a pass from Beau Bennett to ice the game. Wade Megan padded his stats and made the final score of the game look even more convincing with an empty-netter goal from the other end of the ice as time expired.
Monsters Head Coach John Madden discussed what went wrong for the team today, as they only mustered up two power-play looks to Chicago’s six.
“We don’t draw many penalties,” Madden told reporters after Saturday’s contest. “Drawing penalties puts people in bad situations with speed. We lack speed. We lack intensity. We don’t go to the net. We don’t put anybody in a situation where they have to make a decision whether to pull you down or interfere with you. Last year, we had the least amount of power plays. Same thing this year.”
The Monsters are now 8-9-2-2 and will travel to take on San Antonio on Thursday.
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