The 2014-15 AHL season is underway and Monsters Hockey is BACK! After a dismal 1-3 start, the Monsters head out on a three-city road trip this weekend (Friday in Grand Rapids, Saturday in Milwaukee and Sunday in Rockford) that will be pretty brutal. Each Friday afternoon I’ll recap the prior weeks games and preview the upcoming weekend. I’ll also keep you up-to-date on Home Ice Special Events! Rather than dwell on this first tough week of games, here are a few things that changed from last season that you should know…
New Division: The AHL has done some realigning and the Monsters are now in the Western Conference, Midwest Division. They face a tough challenge in this new division, facicng The Chicago Wolves, The Grand Rapids Griffins, The Milwaukee Admirals and The Rockford Icehogs. (How can you not love a name like “Icehogs?”) Anyway, looking at last year’s final standings, the Monsters would be a distant last place vs this competition. They will have their work cut out for them , especially considering their penalty-kill and shoot-out problems of last year.
Rule 85 “Over time”: And speaking of shoot-out problems, expect fewer of them this year with the new OT rules… We start with a 7 minute Sudden Death OT period… At the 4:00 mark, the first referee whistle stopping play will result in each team losing a player or 3-on-3 action! If the game is still tied after this period, a shoot-out featuring three players from each team will commence. I can’t wait to see the Monsters play one of these new style of OT periods. The challenge for Head Coach Dave Chenowyth in managing the lines and watching the players with that much more empty ice… Awesome!
Congrats to stellar goalie Calvin Pickard on being called up by the Colorado Avalance and getting to play in his first NHL game this week. He made the trip to Chicago with the team and had just finished lunch and was getting ready for practice when he got the call. He was off to Ottawa be the backup for Reto Berra and due to a collision early in the first period, ended up in the crease and finished the game. Unfortunately, a couple of 3rd period goals by the Senators turned his first game into a loss, but at least he’s up there!
Welcome to a couple new faces: Captain Bruno Gervais and rookie goalie Roman Will. With Pickard being called up, we’ll see much more of Will than I expected when we first signed him and defensemen Gervais being named a team captain tells you what his teammates think of him and his abilities. Welcome to Cleveland, guys!
Lastly, if you are a hockey fan and you’re looking for pumpkin carving idea, check out the Lake Erie Monsters website. They’ve got some easy stencils on their to use for carving and show the whole neighborhood that you are a spooky hockey fan like me!
For more LEMonsters news, follow me on twitter @ClvlndK8.
You should also be following the voice of the Monsters @DougPlagens