The View From the Booth...Home Again

Hello again, hockey fans, and welcome to another edition of "The View From The Booth." The Monsters had another winning weekend this past weekend, playing three games in three days at The Q and winning two of those contests.

Friday's 5-4 shootout win over Peoria was the second most exciting game of the season, as Phil Dupuis’ overtime-winner in Lake Erie’s 3-2 season-opening win against Rochester on October 3rd just narrowly beats it out.

As for Friday's game, we had a great crowd on hand and the Monsters showed their comeback ability after falling behind 2-0 early in the game. The comeback started in the second period when Darren Haydar, who wore the captain's "C" last weekend, got the power play on track with a shot from the top of the circle. Minutes later it was time for two rookies to showcase their scoring ability. Cedric McNicoll, a young man who played the last five years in the QMJHL, has loads and loads of talent and did it ever show on his first professional goal. McNicoll split both of the Peoria defensemen and made his way to the net on just a spectacular power play goal to give the Monsters a 3-2 lead. Seconds later, fellow rookie Brock Bradford fired home a power play goal from the bottom of the circle to give the Monsters a 4-2 lead. Both goals by the rookies were highlight-reel material and a very good sign of things to come for two players with high skill levels and great minds and abilities for the game at this level.

The Monsters connected on three straight power play goals in that second period, which is a season-high, and it was great to see the power play back on track. As for the rest of the game, the Monsters led 4-2 but Peoria battled back to tie the game, 4-4, and force overtime. But that wasn't enough to determine a winner and the game went to one of my favorite things in sports - a shootout. Darren Haydar scored first, then McNicoll and Bradford scored and that set that stage for rookie goaltender Trevor Cann, who came up with a save in the fourth round of the shootout to preserve the win.

There was another player who really stood out to me Friday night - Matt Ford. Ford arrived in Cleveland around 4:30 p.m. Friday from the ECHL’s Charlotte Checkers. It was clear from the drop of the puck that Ford had no signs of "jet lag,” as he came out of the gate flying and scored the Monsters first goal of the night. It was nothing flashy, but Ford did a smart thing and just fired the puck toward the net and watched it flutter and find its way to the back of the net. Ford followed up Friday's effort with another great effort on Saturday afternoon in the Monsters 4-1 win over Peoria. In that game, Ford picked up an assist and an empty net goal. Sunday against Abbotsford, Ford was on the top line and continued his strong play. I was very, very impressed with the way he played all weekend; Ford plays the game at a high speed level and makes good things happen on the ice.

Another item that stood out Saturday was the fact that the Monsters scored their first three goals off clean faceoff wins inside the attacking zone. Faceoffs are such an important part of the game and the players executed that to perfection on those three goals, one of which was a big-time blast from the blueline by Brian Fahey. It was his second goal of the season. I’ve also really enjoyed watching Fahey’s physical style of play each night.

Sunday's game was a tough tilt against the Abbottsford Heat and the heat was on the Monsters heading into the third period trailing 2-0. But in the third, the Monsters played with tremendous determination and pressure. With under four minutes to play, rookie David Marshall got the Monsters on the board with a blistering shot that got by goaltender Leland Irving's blocker to make it 2-1. From that point on the Monsters got Tyler Weiman from the net on a couple of different occasions for the extra attacker, something that had worked in previous games for head coach David Quinn. But the Heat defense coupled with strong play from Irving would not allow the Monsters another score.
 
Let me get back to Marshall for minute, though. Late in the third period Sunday, he was crunched from behind, head first into the glass. The first-year forward shook off the hit and came back to score that goal, proving that he is one tough customer. I've yet to see him back down from anyone. He plays the game with such passion, grit and determination, all of which are great qualities!
 
I also want to mention the play of Weiman on Saturday. He was great all afternoon, but early in the game he played brilliant, denying several Peoria power play chances. He had a shutout in his sights late in Saturday's game but a bad bounce off of a skate led to the only Peoria goal of the game. It was clear to me why Tyler led the league with eight shutouts last season and was an AHL All-Star. When he is on, and he usually is, he's one of the best guys between the pipes in the league.

It would have been great, obviously, to take all six points this weekend. But the Monsters still managed to take four of the six. This weekend will be another opportunity at The Q for the Monsters to keep the home cooking going. Friday night is another Dollar Dog Night, something that has always been a huge hit and is just one of the many great promotions the Monsters hockey staff does. The Toronto Marlies come to town at 7:30 p.m. Friday and then Sunday at 3:00 p.m. the Grand Rapids Griffins are in Cleveland. Both games will air live on espncleveland.com and Sunday's game will air live on FOX Sports Ohio. Both contests are North Division games and, as we know, these division games are always so important as the season goes on, so we want to see all the fans we can get come cheer on the Monsters this weekend at The Q.

Friday night I'll be on the call on the radio/internet solo. Sunday, however, Sean Ritchlin will join me in the broadcast booth, or as it's more frequently referred to, "The Joe Tait Perch," as it’s named after legendary Cavs broadcaster Joe Tait, who I’ve had the opportunity to meet. I must say is Joe a great man. It's an honor for me to share the same broadcast booth/perch with Joe. Kenny Roda will be the third member of our broadcast team on Sunday and will handle the rinkside/intermission reports. I always look forward to chatting about hockey and football with Kenny!

One last item. Be sure to check back to www.lakeeriemonsters.com for information on how you can email the booth and ask me questions about the team, players, hockey in general, a trivia question, etc. in the future. The segment will be called "No Holden Back." I hope to see you at The Q this weekend, but if you can't make it down, be sure to tune in to the games on ESPN 850 WKNR or FOX Sports Ohio.

That’s it for this edition of “The View From The Booth.” Thanks for reading, and GO MONSTERS!

Sincerely,

Ben Holden.

The View from the Booth Archive:
Volume 1 (10/21)
Volume 2 (10/23)
Volume 3 (10/28)

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