CLEVELAND MONSTERS AHL HOCKEY COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS NHL I71 REPORT

I-71 Report: Hat Tricks and Road Trips

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The Monsters head into Week 7 at the number two spot in the North Division with 17 points and an 8-6-1 record. Over the last few weeks there has been no shortage of action, with hat tricks, shootouts and 12 goal games; and throughout this time, I-71 has remained relatively quiet until recently.

Blue Jackets defenseman Gabriel Carlsson was the first to reach Cleveland from Columbus. Since being assigned to the Monsters in October, Carlsson found the back of the net once and tallied six assists, totaling seven points in his last 12 games. On Nov. 14, he was recalled by the Blue Jackets only to return back to Cleveland Nov. 15 before heading to Columbus once again on Nov. 16.

Joining Carlsson and the Monsters, leftwing Sonny Milano was assigned Nov. 3. His first game in a Monsters uniform came the following day at home against Grand Rapids.

When asked about Milano, Head Coach John Madden said, “He’s a nice addition. We’re used to guys going the other way so when we get a guy like that back we have to make good on it.”

Sonny was held pointless in his first AHL game this season but has since heated up and currently rides a three-game point streak with 2 goals and an assist. Before coming to Cleveland, Milano played in eight games for the Blue Jackets, tallying one goal and five shots.

On Nov. 14, defenseman Adam Clendening was assigned to Cleveland after playing four games in Columbus. Clendening posted a +1 rating.

Back in Columbus, the Blue Jackets sit atop the Metropolitan division with 24 points and a 10-6-2 record. Though they’ve found success, CBJ has struggled to find a rhythm on their bottom two lines. Head Coach John Tortorella’s shake-up of the third and fourth lines has proven successful however, with the Jackets’ latest win coming Nov. 15 against the Florida Panthers at home, 7-3.

Additionally, we’ve seen some familiar faces making an impact in Columbus this past month. Goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, who appeared in eight games for the Monsters last season, has started in net for the Jackets seven times this season with a record of 4-0-0-2. In October, Koripsalo made three starts for the team.

“It feels nice, I mean it’s been a while since I played this many games in a row. I have to make the most out of it and help the team to win,” said Korpisalo when asked about his increased ice time.

Similarly, left wing Markus Hannikainen has increased production in Columbus, averaging about ten minutes and 14 shifts in his last 10 games. Hannikainen has tallied 2 assists with a +1 rating for the Blue Jackets.

From the Monsters, forward Zac Dalpe made his first Blue Jackets appearance this season on Nov. 15, collecting his first NHL point of the season in his debut before rejoining the Monsters on Nov. 16. On Nov. 2 at home against reigning Calder Cup Champion Toronto Marlies, Dalpe netted a hat trick, following up with an additional two goals on Nov. 4 to earn CCM/AHL Player of the Week. He currently ranks second and fourth in the AHL in goals (12) and points (19) respectively.

While it's only November, both teams understand the importance of making a statement and creating separation early.

“The month of November is a huge month. It usually tells which way teams are going and if it's going to be a battle. But the way we're talking in our room, we want to put some separation between us and the other teams - and keep winning,” said Coach Madden.

Next up, the Monsters hit the road for a weekend series against the Hershey Bears for the first time since the 2015-16 Calder Cup Finals when Cleveland won the championship at home on June 11, 2016.

Friday’s game will be televised on SportsTime Ohio and broadcast through AHLTV and Alt 99.1FM. Saturday’s game can be found on AHLTV and Alt 99.1.