This season, the Cleveland Monsters are on a quest to get back to the Calder Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2019 and win their first Calder Cup championship since 2016 (when they were called the Lake Erie Monsters). Since the calendar has flipped to 2023, it’s time for the Monsters to put the pedal to the metal and get back to the postseason.
Cleveland closed out 2022 by hosting the Charlotte Checkers (Florida Panthers) for a two-game Thursday-Saturday set with Charlotte taking both games 3-2 (including Charlotte coming back from a 2-1 deficit on Thursday).
The month of December wasn’t too kind to the Monsters, as they lost eight of their 11 games in the final month of 2022. Cleveland split with the Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres), the Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals) and the Laval Rocket (Montreal Canadiens). They also lost games against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins), the Utica Comets (New Jersey Devils) and Checkers. To end 2022, the Monsters finished 1-5 on their six-game homestand in which they dropped their final five games. The Monsters are currently 6-7-1-0 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse so far this season, which equates to 13 points. In their last 10 games, the Monsters are 3-7-0-0. Their overall record is 12-13-1-2, which gives them 27 points on the season.
Cleveland is now set to embark on a six-game road trip that will take them to Grand Rapids, Chicago (for a Friday-Saturday two-game set), Utica, Belleville and Laval. This season, the Monsters are 6-6-0-2 on the road, which equates to 14 points. The Monsters will play eight games on the road in January, while playing four games at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse this month.
Following the road trip, Cleveland will come home for a quick two-game mid-week home set with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers). Cleveland will then go right back out on the road to face the Checkers.
The Top 5 teams in the North Division will qualify for the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs. As of now, Cleveland wouldn’t receive an invitation to the postseason party because they’re in sixth place in the division. As they get ready to visit the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings) on January 4th, the Monsters are a point behind the fifth-place Rocket, who are 12-15-3-1 with 28 points. While the Monsters are tangling with the Griffins on Wednesday night, the Rocket will be dealing with the Manitoba Moose (Winnipeg Jets).
Laval and Cleveland will see each other for three critical matchups in January. The first game will be on January 14th in Laval, and then the Rocket will come to Cleveland on January 27th and 28th. Including those three games, Cleveland and Laval will play each other four more times this season. The final meeting of the season between the Monsters and Rocket will be on April 7th in Laval.
Along with Laval, the Monsters could find themselves jockeying with the Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning) for positioning in the North Division, as Syracuse is currently in fourth place in the division with a record of 13-11-2-2, which equates to 30 points (three points ahead of the Monsters.) Cleveland and Syracuse will link up one more time on March 1st in New York. The Monsters are 3-0 against the Crunch this season, including a 6-5 shootout victory on opening night.
The Monsters and WBS Penguins will take things outdoors at FirstEnergy Stadium on March 4th for the Cleveland Monsters Outdoor Classic, the first ever outdoor professional hockey game in Cleveland. The Monsters are hoping they can go into that game with momentum and in contention for the playoffs.
The Monsters didn’t close out December 2022 the way they wanted to, but with a new year upon them, they have the opportunity to start with a fresh clean slate and get back to the postseason.