Tony Brown's Playoff Notebook (4.28.19)
Tony’s Playoff Notebook
Sunday, April 28th
Practice – Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Cleveland, OH
With the start of the Monsters’ second-round best-of-seven North Division Final series vs. the defending Calder Cup Champion Toronto Marlies just three days away, Cleveland took to their home ice Sunday morning at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse for a spirited practice featuring 30 of the team’s 33 rostered players, including top net-minder Brad Thiessen. After a brisk warmup, the Monsters clicked through extensive specialty teams work before wrapping up after about an hour on the ice.
Prior to practice, we spoke with Monsters forward Liam Foudy, who scored the first two goals of his professional career, including the game-winning strike, in Cleveland’s 3-0 Game 4 win over Syracuse on Thursday to clinch the best-of-five North Division Semi-Final. We also discussed the Calder Cup Playoff debut of Cleveland forward Nikita Korostelev with the Russian-born winger and discussed Cleveland’s next opponent with the former Toronto Maple Leafs draft choice.
72 Ryan MacInnis, 28 Zac Dalpe, 19 Liam Foudy
25 Alex Broadhurst, 23 Derek Barach, 38 Nikita Korostelev
22 Sonny Milano, 55 Mark Letestu, 10 Dan DeSalvo
57 Paul Bittner, 20 Justin Scott, 88 Kole Sherwood
82 Kevin Stenlund, 16 Miles Koules, 44 Brett Gallant, 21 Sam Vigneault, 27 Calvin Thurkauf, 41 Maxime Fortier
- Only three players on Cleveland’s roster did not appear in Sunday’s practice, including team captain Nathan Gerbe (lower-body injury), goaltender Jean-Francois Berube (lower-body injury) and defenseman Desmond Bergin.
- Defenseman Garret Cockerill (upper-body) was a near-full participant Sunday as he continues to recover from injury.
THE FOUD SHOW
It was, in many ways, a night to remember for Foudy in Thursday’s Game 4, just the fourth professional game for the former London Knights (OHL) standout who made his pro debut in the first game of Cleveland’s North Division Semi-Final vs. Syracuse. With family members in attendance, Foudy enjoyed a promotion to the Monsters’ top line prior to the game and posted two goals. On Sunday, the 18th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft expanded on his meaningful performance.
Liam Foudy, F
“I was pretty excited [when I saw the Game 4 lineup]. The first couple games, I was just trying to get my feet wet, trying to get used to the pace and everything and in the fourth game, coach trusts me enough that he put me up there in the lineup to play with [Zac Dalpe] and [Ryan MacInnis]. We did pretty well out there and it worked out…I felt really good, I had my aunt and uncle here too so having a big crowd here behind us and how loud the building got, it definitely felt pretty special to get those two goals.”
Foudy also spoke to his adjustment from the Major Junior game to the pro ranks and his having the added luxury of a familiar face in the Cleveland dressing room in recent Monsters addition and former London teammate Will Lochead.
Liam Foudy, F
“Playing the whole season back in London, then coming here and just being here for a week, week and a half now, just trying to get used to it, the practice schedule, the games, the pace out there and everything, so that’s the biggest thing…Just the size of everyone…Guys are a lot older, they battle a lot harder, so guys are a lot stronger out there. When you go into the corners, there’s a lot more will to win everything and that’s the biggest difference I’ve noticed.”
“I was sitting at home, and he texted me that he was getting called up, so I’m really happy to have him here, he’s a good friend of mine back home.”
KORO CRASHES THE PARTY
After sitting out the first three games of the series, Korostelev made his AHL Playoff debut in Thursday’s Game 4. On Sunday, he described his debut performance and his team’s enduring a stretch of nearly half the third period in Game 4 down a skater with Syracuse trying to salvage their season by pulling their goaltender extremely early on in the period.
Nikita Korostelev, F
“It was exciting for sure – you walk in the dressing room, ready to work, look at the lineup, it’s out there, you get your mindset right away – it was great, I enjoyed it, these are fun games to play in…I had to bring energy, I didn’t play for two weeks or so, and I thought I did well, there was some nerves for sure at the beginning, but I got a couple hits in and you’re good to go basically.”
On playing a man-down for most of the third period in Game 4…
“The bench was buzzing for sure, the guys were jumping…Every blocked shot was celebrated like a goal…It was great to experience that.”
Both Foudy and Korostelev looked ahead to the Monsters’ next opponent and the adjustments Cleveland is making to get set for the North Division Final. Korostelev was originally selected in the seventh round (185th overall) by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and knows several of the Marlies players, a topic he touched on Sunday morning.
Nikita Korostelev, F
“They’re a skilled lineup, even their [defensemen], they’re jumping in, they want to play fast, transition fast…We know them pretty well, we need to get prepared this week and do everything we can…I know most [of the Marlies players], I wouldn’t say I communicate with them every day, but a couple of them, yeah we talk once in awhile but [in the playoffs], there’s no friends.”
Liam Foudy, F
“We’re totally turning our focus on Toronto, today was the first day we started doing some video so we’re focusing more on trying to change what we were trying to do playing Syracuse and now we’ve got to flip the mindset to Toronto.”
Here’s your friendly broadcast reminder - be sure to join me for Game 1 of the best-of-seven game North Division Final as we’ll bring you every second of the action, live from Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto, on Wednesday, May 1st at 7:00 pm EST on Alt 99.1, AHLTV and the Monsters Hockey Network with additional broadcast information announced in the coming days.