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
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Cleveland's Achilles' heel in this one was something that's bitten them a few times in these playoffs so far...

They took too many penalties and took them at poorly timed points in this game.

While Hershey only scored off of two of the seven attempts, their first goal came shortly after the first call against Marcus Bjork, and it seemed their penalties couldn't have come at worse times for their momentum.

They took the lead off of the Frank goal just after the Bjork penalty in the first period, again on the Priskie powerplay goal in the second, and the 4-2 lead off of the Lapierre goal in the third. Against a high-octane offense like Hershey's, the Monsters must limit their exposure to the penalty box if they want to stand a chance in the remainder of this series.

There are some positives on the other hand. I thought the Pearson - Dunne - Whelan line looked brilliant tonight. Outside of just Whelan's goal in the second period, they seemed to dominate and impose their physicality on the Bears each time they were on the ice.

Dunne and Whelan especially impressed me with their leadership abilities, tenacity, and ability always to seem to be in the right place at the right time during these playoffs. With Dunne and Whelan both being UFAs at the end of this season, they are both making strong cases to be re-signed, and in the case of Whelan, to be signed to an NHL-level deal at the conclusion of the Monster's season.

Another pairing that impressed me was Stanislav Svozil and whoever he was paired with tonight, namely Billy Sweezey or David Jiricek after the first intermission.

Svozil seemed to be calm, composed, and always willing to make the right play during the game tonight, and this was especially apparent in the late stages of the game. He played exceptionally well with Sweezey in the last dozen minutes of the third period.

Sweezey was noticeable in how Sweezey usually is: gigantic hits and playing with rugged physicality. He pushed Bears players off the puck more than once tonight and made room for his teammates to push up the ice.

As he continues to wear the A this season for the Monsters, his continued maturity and growth in the defensive end have made him a favorite of Coach Trent Voglehuber in the critical minutes of games.

Jiricek rebounded after an extremely tough start to the game and had a solid outing, finishing with a 1-2-3 line on the night. He was much more visible on both ends of the ice after the first; he cleaned up his penalty differential and puck possession as the game went on.

The Monsters will return to action against the Bears on Saturday night from the Giant Center at & PM EDT. Cleveland will hope to see their captain and one of their leading scorers, Brendan Gaunce, return by that point after he sat out tonight.

The Monsters face a vital task in Game 2 intending to take, home-ice advantage of the Bears and heading back into Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, with the series tied at a game apiece.