CLEVELAND MONSTERS AHL HOCKEY CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS 2019

Tony Brown's Playoff Notebook (4.22.19)

kspadaro

Tony’s Playoff Notebook
Monday, April 22nd
Practice – Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, OH

In the wake of 5-3 and 5-1 road wins over the Syracuse Crunch on Friday and Saturday, the Monsters hauled a 2-0 series lead in the team’s best-of-five North Division Semi-Final series home to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Monday for an up-tempo practice prior to Tuesday’s potentially decisive Game 3. With Cleveland’s series-opening victories, the Monsters are currently in the midst of an 11-game Calder Cup Playoff winning streak dating back to Game 6 of the 2016 North Division Finals vs. Grand Rapids and prior to Monday’s practice we spoke with Cleveland forward Alex Broadhurst and defenseman Dillon Simpson.

 

PRACTICE LINES

23 Derek Barach, 28 Zac Dalpe, 25 Alex Broadhurst

22 Sonny Milano, 55 Mark Letestu, 10 Dan DeSalvo

72 Ryan MacInnis, 20 Justin Scott, 88 Kole Sherwood

19 Liam Foudy, 21 Sam Vigneault, 82 Kevin Stenlund, 27 Calvin Thurkauf

57 Paul Bittner, 16 Miles Koules, 38 Nikita Korostelev, 44 Brett Gallant

 

Notes:

  • Monday saw the Monsters debut of defensemen Desmond Bergen, signed to a pro tryout (PTO) contract on Monday, and defenseman Will Lochead, signed to an amateur tryout (ATO) deal, as well the return of blue-liner Justin Wade, recalled by Cleveland from the ECHL’s Florida Everblades following the departure of defenseman Keoni Texeira who was released from his PTO by the Monsters on Monday.
  • Defenseman Garret Cockerill (upper-body injury), captain Nathan Gerbe (lower-body injury) and goaltender Jean-Francois Berube (lower-body injury) did not participate in Monday’s practice.

 

SPECIALTY TEAMS A MAJOR FOCUS

After surrendering two power-play goals to the Crunch in Friday’s 5-3 Game 1 victory, the Monsters coaching staff made clear that adjustments to the team’s penalty kill were forthcoming. In Saturday’s Game 2, Cleveland’s man-down unit was effective three times in four chances and heading into Tuesday’s Game 3, Broadhurst and Simpson outlined the importance of specialty teams in the postseason.

 

Alex Broadhurst, F
“Obviously the first game wasn’t great to start, but we ended up getting a huge goal to put us up, which was huge. It gave us a little bit of momentum and we obviously cleaned up the penalty kill a little bit too and kept the puck out of the net a couple times and Brad [Thiessen] was huge for us on the penalty kill too. Special teams is going to be huge in the next game, I think that’s going to [decide] the game.”

 

Dillon Simpson, D
“As we saw, our PK definitely did better the second game. They’ve got a bunch of weapons over there that can score from anywhere so on the PK, [we need to] try to limit those second chances, make sure [Thiessen] can see pucks and then on the power-play, even if we don’t score, just trying to gain momentum from each power-play.”

 

DISCLIPLINED DEMEANOR

Prior to both Games 1 and 2 of the series, Cleveland’s coaching staff preached the importance of discipline in avoiding retaliatory penalties by playing “whistle to whistle,” thereby limiting the opportunities for the Crunch’s potent man-up unit. Both Broadhurst and Simpson were pleased with the focus of their team in the first two games of the series.

Alex Broadhurst, F
“We did a great job, had level heads, obviously we protected each other out there but we played smart and didn’t make stupid mistakes like some of those [games] in the regular season…We just played a good solid game, played good playoff hockey, playing simple, getting pucks deep and shots on net, so it worked out.”

Dillon Simpson, D
“I think after the first night even, I think you could tell that them on the power-play is deadly so for us keep our feet moving, stay away from stick infractions and that kind of thing will be a huge part of our success at home as well.”

 

HOME, SWEET HOME

The Monsters have always enjoyed spectacular support from the Northeast Ohio hockey community, but heading into Tuesday’s Game 3, the first Calder Cup Playoff game in Cleveland since Game 4 of the 2016 Calder Cup Final, both Broadhurst and Simpson raved about the environment in which the Monsters are so fortunate to compete when playing at home.

 

Alex Broadhurst, F
“It’s going to be awesome. I remember last time we were in the playoffs, it went awesome and the fans showed up every night and we had awesome crowds every night so we’re expecting a high-energy game and we know the fans will be there with us.”

Dillon Simpson, D
“It will be great, the fans have been with us all year, they’ve been unbelievable so to give them a home playoff game will be huge and I’m sure they’ll come out and be loud for us.”

 

Here’s your friendly broadcast reminder - be sure to join Jock Callander and me for Game 3 of the best-of-five game North Division Semi-Final as we’ll bring you every second of the action, live from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, tomorrow night at 7:30 pm EST (note the later-than-usual start) on Alt 99.1, AHLTV and the Monsters Hockey Network.