ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Cleveland Monsters and Rochester Americans met for a midweek evening tilt on Wednesday night in New York. After a 9-2 smackdown on Saturday night, the Amerks were on the hunt for sweet, sweet revenge.
Rochester kicked off their redemption tour with a bang when Michael Mersch scored within the first two minutes of the game. Shortly after Mersch’s goal, left winger Brent Gates fired a point blank shot on Monsters netminder Daniil Tarasov in hopes of extending the Amerks lead. Tarasov stopped the shot with ease and Monsters defender Wyatt Newpower was there to prevent any extra whacks from the opposition.
A few good looks on net came from the Monsters during the first half of the opening period. The best came with 11:40 remaining in the first, when Monsters forward Liam Foudy forced a turnover and raced down the ice before passing the puck over to his linemate Tyler Angle, who launched it towards the net. Amerks goaltender Stefanos Lekkas dramatically denied the shot by dropping into the splits before bumping the puck out of the air with his chest.
With 4:09 left to play in the first period, the Amerks extended their lead over the Monsters to 2-0. Rochester forward Dominic Franco managed to tip a bomb from Ryan Jones through Tarasov’s five-hole. Tarasov was surrounded by traffic and was unable to see the shot coming. However, he sensed the shot coming, and began to shut his five-hole. Unfortunately for the Monsters, it wasn’t shut with the speed needed to stop the puck from flying into the net.
What makes the Amerks second goal of the night a tough pill to swallow for the Monsters is the fact the shot was preventable. Tarasov had total control of the view and play. Jones was in his line of vision and Franco was in a position where Tarasov could have pushed him out of the crease. As Jones wound up to fire off the shot, Monsters defender Thomas Schemitsch tried to get in front of the shot by standing in front of his goaltender. By doing this, he took away Tarasov’s line of vision and range of motion. Schemitsch is a quick learner, so after this goal happened, he spent the rest of the game being more mindful of his positioning on the ice.
Speaking of defenders, Dillon Simpson put the Monsters within one of the Amerks with two to play in the first. Schemitsch hit Simpson with a beautiful tape-to-tape pass before he fired the puck off the left post and into the corner of the net to make it 2-1.
On the impending faceoff, Monsters winger Brett Gallant and Amerks winger Matej Pekar dropped the gloves. I’m not sure why it happened. What I do know is, after getting a few decent punches in on Gallant, Pekar barely survived that fight.
The combination of scoring a goal and winning a fight powered the Monsters through to the end of the period.
A little under four minutes into the second period, the Monsters headed to the penalty kill when forward Carson Meyer went knee-to-knee with Amerks forward Jack Quinn. On the very next shift, Foudy snuck away with the puck. The Amerks spotted him with enough time to foil his play. It was just another reminder of how sneak good Foudy is when playing hockey.
There was a lot of back and forth play during the rest of the second. The two squads continued to match each other’s energy and skill until the end period.
The Monsters tied the game up at two 42 seconds into the final period of play. Meyer forced a turnover in the neutral zone and took off down the ice with the puck. Out of the corner of his eye, Cleveland forward Tyler Sikura appeared in the slot. Without looking, Meyer passed the puck to Sikura, who quickly sniped it through the five-hole of Lekkas.
Six and a half minutes into the third period, defender Ole Bjorgvik-Holm scored his first AHL goal to give the Monsters the 3-2 lead over the Amerks. He hustled to scoop up a puck that bounced off the boards before launching it into the net.
Just like in Saturday’s game, once the Monsters started scoring, it was tough to turn them off. With 7:50 left in the game, the newest member of the Monsters defensive core Brandon Crawley launched a shot from the corner of the blue line towards the net. Monsters winger Tristan Mullin got a piece of the shot before the puck slowly rolled across the blue line into the net for his first professional goal.
Brandon Crawley launches one from the corner of the blue line towards the net. Tristan Mullin gets a piece of it before it slowly rolls across the goal line into the net.
First professional goal for Mullin
— Elaine Shircliff (@imaraindancer) April 15, 2021
The Amerks were not going to go into the night quietly.
With 5:14 to play, winger Steven Fogarty put the Amerks within one of the Monsters (4-3) with a snipe from the left faceoff dot. Tarasov slid too far to the left to try and stop the puck; it flew just past his glove into the net.
This goal wasn’t enough to mess with the Monsters’ mojo. They were bound and determined to finish this game with a win, which they did after Simpson flung the puck across the ice from below the goal line into the back of the Amerks empty net with 1:09 to play.
This was all the Monsters needed to take the wind out of Rochester’s sails. What was supposed to be a redemption game for the Amerks turned into a victory for the Monsters.