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Cleveland Monsters Avoid Getting Crunched by Syracuse in Season Opener 6-5

Photo: Josh Ungar / Believeland Media

The Cleveland Monsters dropped the first puck on the 2022-2023 season against the Syracuse Crunch, the AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Friday night, securing the victory 6-5 in a thrilling shootout.

Photo: Josh Ungar / Believeland Media

The scoring was fast and furious in the first period as a combined four goals were scored, three of which came off the sticks of Monsters players. Right winger Kirill Marchenko put the puck in the back of the net only 26 seconds in giving Cleveland the early 1-0 lead.

Both teams played fairly clean hockey in the first period as only a two-minute hooking penalty was called on Syracuse's left winger Jaydon Dureau. Despite the lack of penalties, it was still a tight and physical game in the first period. The Monsters had four more shots on goal (SOG) than the Crunch at the end of period one, 12-8.

The second period belonged to the visiting Crunch, as they outshot the Monsters 12-11 and outscored Cleveland 2-1. Much like the first period, the second period only saw one penalty, a two-minute cross checking foul against Monsters center Brendan Gaunce. The Crunch capitalized on the power-play, as center Simon Ryfors got the puck past Monsters goalie Jet Greaves for his second goal of the game.

At the end of the second period, the Monsters held a slim 4-3 lead. When the puck dropped at the start of the third period, the raucous crowd of 9,425 fans at Rocket Mortage Fieldhouse brought the energy, as they wanted to see the Monsters bring home a season-opening victory. Syracuse was able to overcome the energy the Monsters fans were bringing and scored two goals to Cleveland's one goal. Gernel Smith for the Crunch would tie the game 5-5 on a power-play with 16:27 to go in the third period, and that would be the last score in regulation, sending the season opener to an extra period.

Overtime was mostly uneventful, with Syracuse having the lone PowerPlay opportunity which they squandered. With the score still knotted at five apiece, a shootout was necessary.

Gemel was the first shooter for Syracuse, and he put the puck in the back of the net. The Monsters were unable to respond. The next two rounds were back and forth, with the Monsters scoring twice, and Syracuse scoring once, evening up the scoreboard. As the teams headed into Round 4, Syracuse was once again unable to score, putting pressure on Cleveland to respond. The Monsters rose to the challenge as left winger Cole Fonstad bobbed and weaved towards victory, as he pushed the puck past Crunch goalie Max Lagace to secure the 6-5 win and the Monsters first victory of the season.

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