The Cleveland Monsters finished the 2021-2022 season with a record of 28-35-8-5 and 69 points. Unfortunately, it put them in last place in the North Division. They'll look to get back on track in 2022-2023 with new head coach Trent Vogelhuber behind the bench.
The Monsters call the Eastern Conference's North Division home. They share the house with six other teams, the Utica Comets (New Jersey Devils), Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning), Laval Rocket (Montreal Canadiens), Belleville Senators (Ottowa Senators), Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres), and the Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs).
This week, the 2022-2023 schedule was unveiled for the Monsters. The schedule will be composed of 72 games with game 1 taking place at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (RMFH) on October 14th against Syracuse. The Monsters will play host to the Crunch again the next night. Cleveland and Syracuse will see each other two more times in New York on October 29th and March 1st for a total of four times.
The four game season series against the Marlies is one of the strangest I've seen when it comes to team schedules. Not only are the games between the Monsters and Marlies back-to-backs, but they're also home-and-homes. The Monsters host the Marlies on November 25th. The next day, the teams will meet at Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto. On March 24th, Toronto comes to RMFH. The next day the teams will play their second game in Canada.
The Crunch and Marlies are two of the six teams the Monsters will play four games against. Cleveland will also play the Charlotte Checkers (Florida Panthers), Hershey Bears (the team the Monsters swept in the 2016 Calder Cup Finals and affiliate of the Washington Capitals), Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers), and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins). The Monsters will host each of these teams twice at RMFH and visit their arenas twice.
When the Monsters were part of the Central Division in the Western Conference, their biggest rival was the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings). Even though the Monsters moved out of the Western Conference's Central Division before the start of the 2018-2019 season, the rivalry with the Griffins has not gone away. In the same breath, Cleveland developed the "Great Lakes Rivarly Series" with Rochester once the Monsters transitioned over to the Eastern Conference's North Division.
Rochester and Cleveland will meet on the battlefield eight times. The first time the Monsters and Americans will tangle is November 11th at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester. Rochester will come to Cleveland on Thursday December 3rd for round two.
The Monsters and Griffins will see each other eight times in a battle of mythological creatures. The first game between the two will take place on November 9th at RMFH. Round two between the beasts will be at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids on December 23rd.
In addition to Rochester and Grand Rapids, the Monsters will meet four other teams eight times each: Belleville, the Chicago Wolves (2022 Calder Cup champions and affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes), Laval, and Utica. Four games each at RMFH, four games each on the road.
Playing back-to-back games is difficult enough, but to add to the dificulty, the Monsters will have to do it a few times this upcoming season, and they'll all be on the road. On October 21st, the Monsters play in Utica against the Comets. On the 22nd and 23rd, Cleveland will be at Lehigh Valley in a battle of paranormal vs. mythology when the Phantoms and Monsters drop the puck.
On December 9th, the Monsters and Penguins indirectly continue the Cleveland-Pittsburgh rivalry when they link up in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. December 10th and 11th, Cleveland will be in "Chocolate Town" to play Hershey. February 17th, the Monsters and Griffins exchange pleasantries in Grand Rapids. Then, on February 18th and 19th, the Monsters and the defending champion Wolves will renew acquaintances.
Interestingly, Cleveland doesn't play any of their other "old friends" who reside in the Central Division this upcoming season. In addition to Grand Rapids and Chicago, Cleveland also faced off with the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators) and Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks) last season. This season, neither the Admirals nor the IceHogs appear on the Monsters' schedule.
The last time Cleveland qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs was in 2019. Cleveland defeated Syracuse in five games in the North Division Semifinals to advance to the North Division Finals, where they promptly got swept by Toronto. After finishing in last place in the North Division last season, the Monsters look to climb the ladder and get back to the playoffs and bring home another championship to the city of Cleveland.
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