The Cleveland Monsters fell just short in game 1 of the AHL Eastern Conference Finals to the Hershey Bears in OT

Despite a miraculous comeback in the last 90 seconds of the Third Period on goals by Trey Fix-Wolansky and David Jiricek, the Monsters dropped Game 1 of the AHL Eastern Conference Finals to the Hershey Bears in Overtime.
Columbus Blue Jackets v Carolina Hurricanes
Columbus Blue Jackets v Carolina Hurricanes / Jaylynn Nash/GettyImages
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The Cleveland Monsters showed on the night of Game 1 of the AHL Eastern Conference Finals that they would be a force to reckon with in their series with the Hershey Bears. Still, they fell just short of cashing in on some late-game heroics, ultimately falling 5 to 4 in overtime.

The first period was about weathering the storm from a relentless Hershey offensive attack for the Monsters.

Marcus Bjork would take a holding penalty just 87 seconds into the game, and while Hershey wouldn't get credit for a powerplay goal, they scored just after at 4:24 off a slick breakaway shot by Ethen Frank. Following a brilliant breakout pass by Hendrix Lapierre, Frank slipped by a slow-to-react David Jiricek and sent the puck under Jet Greaves' glove side and into the back of the net.

Jiricek's rough start to the game continued into the end of the first period, as the Blue Jackets' high-end prospect ended up taking a double minor for high sticking at 10:57, which the Monsters would kill off, only to take another high-sticking penalty at 16:20.

While Cleveland ended up killing off all three penalties, it left them very little room for offense in the first period, as they headed to the dressing room down in shots 13-3 and on the scoreboard 1-0.

Things would quickly turn around for the Monsters in the first five minutes of the second frame, however, as Hunter McKown would bury a powerplay goal off an excellent feed from Jiricek at the 3:31 mark, and another goal by Alex Whelan would set them into the lead at 4:52.

Hershey would take a 3-2 lead into the second intermission despite these early tallies, off of significant deflection from a drive to the net by Aaron Ness, gaining his first goal of the playoffs, and from a late Chase Priskie powerplay goal. Jimmy Huntington of the Bears set a hard screen in front of the undersized Greaves, and Priskie took advantage of some tricky puck rotation to score off a hard slapshot from above the right faceoff dot.

Cleveland would find themselves in an even deeper hole following yet another powerplay goal for the Bears by Hendrix Lapierre; he took advantage of a misplaced Cleveland defense and a late reaction from Jet Greaves to put Hershey up 4-2 through the five-hole.

Despite the late deficit, Cleveland battled back. With Greaves on the bench, the Monsters on the powerplay, and a sixth skater on, Trey Fix-Wolansky would finally get his first goal of the playoffs following an odd bounce off of Hunter Shepard's left pad on an attempted cross-ice feed that trickled in over the line at 18:37.

Finally, with just 19 seconds remaining, Jiricek would hit the twine off of a brilliant wrister from the high slot between the circles that sent the game into overtime. Josh Dunne deserves a screen assist from this play, as Shepard was utterly blind to Jiricek's maneuvering thanks to the big play from the 6'4" big man from Missouri.

Ultimately, however, Cleveland fell in Overtime at 7:58 off a 3-1 rush chance from Mike Vechionne. Justin Pearson attempted to glove down to play a puck in the offensive zone for the Monsters, but misplayed it, which resulted in an odd-man rush the other way and the game-winner past Greaves.

What doomed the Monsters in this one? We'll break it down on the next page.