CLEVELAND – Fans of the Cleveland Monsters are starting this week with some extra confidence after their team defeated the Rockford IceHogs by a cumulative score of 12-1. Thanks to an outburst of scoring, new franchise records, and strong performances in the defensive zone, the Monsters had a statement weekend.
Players Getting Their Season Started
Before the start of the Rockford series, 11 Monsters players had made their way to the score sheet. By the end of the weekend, six more players were added to this list thanks to an offensive explosion:
Two players tallied their first two goals of the season this past weekend:
For MacInnis, having everyone contribute was crucial to him having a high scoring weekend:
“Yeah, I mean, everyone’s going. All four lines and the power play is going, so it’s when everyone’s contributing it’s pretty easy to do that,” he said.
Peeke’s first goal of the season was extra special, as it was also his first professional goal. Later in Saturday afternoon’s game, he also tallied a primary assist, making it his first professional multi-point game.
During the second intermission, he reflected on that goal:
“We got the puck in deep and won the battle. We got an open area, and I was able to put it up top right. It felt really good. It was a good goal all around,” Peeke said.
Goalie and Defensive Strength
The Monsters held the IceHogs to one goal on the weekend, coming at 9:52 of the first period in the game on Friday night. In total, they managed to hold them off the scoresheet for 110:08.
Shutting down the opposition had started to become an issue for the defense in this early start to the season. Increased communication between the goaltenders and defensemen seemed to help the group work more cohesively. The connection started early in the games, and it resulted in crisper passes, better predictions on where the goalies would dump the puck, and decreased chances from Rockford.
For Saturday’s goaltender, Veini Vehvilainen, the solid defensive play helped him settle in and secure the shutout:
“They blocked good shots and played like we used to play, so it makes it easier on myself to read the game,” Vehvilainen said.
Two Franchise Records
Amid the dominant offense, the Monsters also set two franchise records for offensive production. First, they passed the old record for consecutive goals for (11, set in 2008-09) by scoring 12 goals. Secondly, this marked the first time that the franchise had ever score five or more goals in three consecutive games. This streak dates back to a 6-5 shootout loss against the Toronto Marlies on October 20.
Monsters head coach Mike Eaves felt that while playing back to back games against the same opponent is difficult, the team found a way to make it work:
“You tend to fight human nature when you find yourself positions like this because one team wins and they feel good, and their team loses, and they’re angry. So, they usually come back with a great punch. I think early, we were able to score and take some of their spirit away from them, and that carried us through the game,” Eaves said.
Three Stars of the Weekend
Third star – Andrew Peeke (1 goal, 1 assist, first career multi-point game)
Second star – Veini Vehvilainen (shutout, 29 saves)
First star – Ryan MacInnis (2 goals, 2 assists)
Currently, the Monsters are fourth in North Division and seventh in Eastern Conference
The Monsters continue their homestand on Friday at 7:00 pm and Sunday at 1:00 pm against the defending Calder Cup champion, Charlotte Checkers.