CLEVELAND – On Friday night, Cleveland Monsters Head Coach Mike Eaves commented post-game that the one tweak he wanted to make for Saturday night’s game would be to “Score more goals.” Though he was seemingly joking at the time, his wish was granted, but not necessarily in the way he was hoping. Despite scoring more goals, the Monsters ultimately fell to the Syracuse Crunch by a score of 6-3.

The cry of “more goals” set the tone of the first period as a total of five goals were scored between the two teams. Syracuse kicked it off with a goal just 4:26 into the game. Cory Conacher fed Gemel Smith, who entered the Monsters zone on the right wing before passing it to Nolan Valleau at the high slot. With a simple shot, he scored the first goal of the game. 

Less than two minutes later, the Monsters responded in kind. Ryan MacInnis circled the net behind Syracuse goalie Louis Domingue before passing to Ryan Collins, who was stationed up high. Kole Sherwood picked up the rebound and fell to the ice as the tying goal snapped in behind Domingue at 6:18. 

Then, three minutes later, at 9:11, Gabriel Carlsson fired the puck from above the faceoff circles. The shot was blocked but immediately picked up by Justin Scott, who got it on net. Domingue made the save but was sent sprawling. Stefan Matteau poked it in and gave Cleveland their only lead of the night.

Syracuse, however, was not to be denied. The Monsters turned the puck over deep in their defensive zone, which was immediately sent on net. After a small flurry of shots, Dennis Yan comes up with the goal at 11:31 with the assists going to Smith and Cal Foote. This was just the beginning of the Monsters’ defensive woes. Attempting a no-look pass behind his goalie’s net, Doyle Somerby instead passed it Danick Martel, who was lying in wait. Martel sent the puck in off the back of Monsters goalie Veini Vehvilainen’s skate to take the 3-2 lead for Syracuse. 

Speed was the name of the first-period game. However, Eaves knows the importance of maintaining a physical presence throughout.

“You can’t escape the fact that in this game that playing hard is a factor in winning and there’s one on one battles all over the ice. There’s 50/50 pucks all over the ice. The fact is, unless you win more of those than lose, you’re going to have a tough time winning hockey games. So, I think each and every one of us, whether you are a little guy like (TreyFix-Wolansky who is quick and little, but he’s got to get inside people or a guy like (Kevin) Stenlund who has got a long reach and a big body, he’s got to use that. So everybody has their aspect of that element in terms of playing hard.” 

Syracuse’s dominating play did not subside in the second. While Ryan Collins was serving a two-minute delay of game penalty, Peter Abbandonato cleaned up a Foote shot off the post to extend the Syracuse lead to two. 

Sherwood then took matters into his own hands. Stationed in front of Domingue, he tapped in the shot taken initially by Calvin Thurkauf. This brought the Monsters to within one with a score of 4-3.

At 17:08, Alex Barre-Boulet shoots an absolute laser past the ear of Vehvilainen, who didn’t seem to see the shot. Syracuse extended its lead to 5-3.

The lone third-period goal came at 8:37. Luke Schenn let one fly from the right point, and Otto Somppi tipped it in for the 6-3 goal.

Overall, especially defensively, Eaves felt his club was sloppy.

“We stopped doing the things that we’ve done in the previous three games that made us look like we knew what the heck we were doing out there. In the realm of 76 games, you are going to have nights like that. Tonight was the first time that we tasted that for ourselves. “

The team returns to action on Friday night in Rochester, NY against the Americans before heading to Toronto for three games in three nights.

Three Stars

3rd– Peter Abbandonato (Syracuse Crunch) – 0g, 3a

2nd– Kole Sherwood (Cleveland Monsters) – 2g, 0a

1st– Cal Foote (Syracuse Crunch) – 1g, 0a

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