Monsters Rally, Fall to Griffins in Shootout, 5-4
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The AHL’s defending Calder Cup Champions, the Cleveland Monsters, proudly powered by Constellation, were defeated by the Grand Rapids Griffins in a shootout on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI by a final score of 5-4. With the shootout loss, the Monsters record fell to 3-7-0-1 overall this season and with a .318 points percentage, Cleveland currently sits alone in eighth place in the AHL’s Central Division standings.
The Griffins struck first on Wednesday as Anthony Mantha notched his eighth of the season at 4:21 of the opening period, a five-on-five marker that made it 1-0 Grand Rapids. A Cleveland response was only 20 seconds away, however, as off the ensuing center-ice draw, Jordan Maletta took advantage of feeds from Ryan Craig and Brett Gallant to post his second tally of the campaign at even strength to level the score at one apiece at 4:41.
The Monsters strung together two more first period scores, from Aaron Palushaj at 9:35 at even strength with Jacob Graves and Alex Broadhurst collecting assists on the play, and Graves himself at 16:21, a five-on-five tally supplied by Craig and T.J. Tynan that made it 3-1 Cleveland and was Graves’ first professional goal. The Griffins drew within one in the first period’s waning moments, though, as Martin Frk wired a power-play wrister past Cleveland goaltender Anton Forsberg at 17:03 to make it 3-2 Monsters heading into the second stanza.
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After a scoreless middle frame, the Griffins posted two unanswered goals to start the third, from Frk on the power-play at 3:02 and Matt Lorito at even-strength at 3:46, to claim a 4-3 lead before Oliver Bjorkstrand forced overtime for the Monsters at 6:32 with an unassisted, five-on-five marker, his third of the season and second in as many games.
After a scoreless three-on-three overtime period, Bjorkstrand and Markus Hannikainen were turned aside by Griffins net-minder Jared Coreau in the first two rounds of the shootout, while Lorito was stopped by Forsberg in the bottom of the first round before Mantha gave the Griffins a 1-0 lead in the second round. Palushaj connected to tie the shootout at one for the Monsters in the bottom of the third round before Forsberg denied Frk, but after Cleveland’s Justin Scott failed to convert in the fourth round, Grand Rapids right wing Evgeny Svechnikov outdueled Forsberg in the Griffins’ half of the fourth to deliver Grand Rapids a 5-4 shootout win.
Forsberg stopped 42 of the 46 pucks he faced in regulation and two of four attempts in the shootout to fall to 3-3-1 in net for the Monsters this year, while Coreau improved to 6-3-0 between the pipes for the Griffins by virtue of a 43-save performance in regulation and three shootout denials in four rounds.
Next up for the Monsters, it’s a Friday night home clash vs. the Chicago Wolves with full coverage, live from The Q in Cleveland, underway at 7:00 pm on 99X and the Monsters Hockey Network.
Tickets for every Monsters home game start at just $10 and are on sale now! Full and partial season ticket memberships are also available and provide you with the best seat locations, custom member benefits and the lowest ticket prices. Group outing and birthday bash packages for 10 or more people are also on sale now. All tickets can be purchased by visiting ClevelandMonsters.com, calling (216) 420-0000, visiting The Q Box Office or any Northern Ohio Discount Drug Mart. Be sure to follow the Monsters on Twitter @monstershockey, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/clevelandmonsters, and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/monstershockey.