Hannikainen Hoists Cleveland to 4-3 Shootout Triumph

CLEVELAND – The AHL’s defending Calder Cup Champions, the Cleveland Monsters, proudly powered by Constellation, defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins in front of 10,797 fans at The Q on Sunday in a shootout by a final score of 4-3. With the win, Cleveland’s 11th in the team’s past 13 games, the Monsters improved to 38-28-4-4 overall this season and with a .578 points percentage, sit in a virtual tie with the Charlotte Checkers for the Central Division’s final playoff spot with two games remaining in the regular season.

The Griffins claimed a 2-0 lead early on with a shorthanded goal from Colin Campbell at 0:41 and an even-strength Dominic Turgeon tally at 14:07 of the first, but Cleveland forward Alex Broadhurst battled back with a five-on-five finish at 14:37 of the frame, assisted by Vitaly Abramov and Oleg Yevenko, to draw the Monsters within a goal at 2-1 entering the middle stanza.

In the second period, Abramov leveled the score at two apiece with his first professional goal, an even-strength tally at 7:16, set up by Ryan Collins and Jaime Sifers. Cleveland kept their foot on the accelerator in the third, as Jordan Maletta buried a shorthanded breakaway at 15:01 on Markus Hannikainen’s lone assist to claim the Monsters’ first lead at 3-2 before Matt Ford tallied a five-on-five marker at 19:42 to tie the game at three for Grand Rapids and force overtime.

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After a scoreless extra session, Monsters goaltender Anton Forsberg stopped Griffins sniper Evgeny Svechnikov in the first round of a three-round shootout before Cleveland’s Zac Dalpe tallied in the bottom of the round. Another Forsberg stop in the second round, this time vs. Ford, led to Hannikainen’s game-winning backhand finish in the bottom of the second round that delivered the Monsters a 4-3 victory.

Forsberg stopped 33 of the 36 pucks he faced to improve to 26-16-4 between the pipes for Cleveland while Griffins backstop Jared Coreau is now 17-11-3 in net this year following a 27-save performance in defeat. Abramov’s assist on Broadhurst’s first-period goal was the rookie’s first professional point and similarly, Collins’ primary assist on Abramov’s middle-frame tally was the former University of Minnesota defenseman’s first point in the professional ranks.

Next up for the Monsters, it’s a Thursday home clash vs. the Manitoba Moose with full coverage, live from The Q, underway at 7:00 pm on 99X and the Monsters Hockey Network.