I-71 Report: Let's Make History
The NHL and AHL All-Star breaks are now firmly in the rearview mirror as both the Monsters and Blue Jackets enter the second half of the season. The Columbus Blue Jackets, the Monsters’ NHL affiliate, currently sit in third place of the Metropolitan Division, while the Monsters rank sixth in the AHL’s North Division.
Movement slowed down a bit on Interstate 71 over the last month after Kevin Stenlund was returned on loan to the Monsters on Jan. 19. In four games with Columbus, Stenlund posted four penalty minutes along with three shots on goal.
Following an injury suffered in a game on Jan. 24, Stenlund returned to the Monsters lineup in the Feb. 12 match up with Rochester, ending in a 5-2 win. In 36 games so far for Cleveland in 2018-19, Stenlund has posted 9-7-16 with ten penalty minutes and a -10 rating.
Movement picked back up on I-71 when the Blue Jackets recalled Monsters assistant captain Mark Letestu up from Cleveland on January 29th. Letestu didn’t wait long to make his season debut after Cam Atkinson was struck in the mouth during warm-ups on Jan. 31 in Winnipeg. On a moment’s notice, Letestu sprinted to the locker room to get ready before joining the team on the bench just before the start of the game.
About last night...here’s why you saw me in a slow waddle behind Mark Letestu pic.twitter.com/KFeE0bOo7V
— Tanner Smith (@ETsmith10) February 1, 2019
Letestu appeared in two games for the Blue Jackets before returning to the Monsters on Feb. 11. In those two games, Letestu posted a -1 rating with one shot on goal. After Columbus’ game on Jan. 31, Letestu talked about what it was like to get back on the ice despite the odd circumstances.
“Sometimes in these situations you come up with [playing some] pretty good games. Last year when I came back I had these issues where I didn’t know if I was playing and you go out there and end up making an impact. I’m just happy to throw the uniform on and it felt good to be out there with these guys again.”
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) February 1, 2019
Letestu was returned to Cleveland on Feb. 11, with left wing Eric Robinson recalled for the second time this season to take his place. Robinson did not dress in the Blue Jackets’ 3-0 win over the Capitals at Nationwide Arena on Feb. 12.
Most recently, the Blue Jackets recalled center Kole Sherwood to make history as the first Columbus native to suit up for the team. In his NHL-debut on Feb. 16 in Chicago against the Blackhawks, Sherwood served 10 shifts in the 5-2 win.
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) February 17, 2019
Next up, the Monsters head to Rochester on Wednesday, Feb. 20 to end a four-game road trip before heading back to Cleveland for a home-stand against the Milwaukee Admirals on Friday, Feb. 22 and Sunday, Feb. 24.