Tony Brown's Playoff Notebook (4.29.19)
Tony’s Playoff Notebook
Monday, April 29th
Practice – OBM Arena, Strongsville, OH
One day closer to the start of the team’s best-of-seven North Division Final series vs. the Toronto Marlies, the Cleveland Monsters returned to the club’s practice facility, OBM Arena in Strongsville, on Monday for a lengthy practice that began with specialty teams work and wrapped after nearly 80 minutes of up-tempo drills. Prior to the skate, we spoke with Monsters goaltender Brad Thiessen about his mindset heading into the second round, his atypical job description this season and his thoughts on what the Monsters are up against vs. Toronto.
72 Ryan MacInnis, 28 Zac Dalpe, 19 Liam Foudy
25 Alex Broadhurst, 23 Derek Barach, 38 Nikita Korostelev
22 Sonny Milano, 55 Mark Letestu, 10 Dan DeSalvo
57 Paul Bittner, 20 Justin Scott, 88 Kole Sherwood
82 Kevin Stenlund, 44 Brett Gallant, 21 Sam Vigneault, 27 Calvin Thurkauf, 41 Maxime Fortier
- For the second-consecutive day, there were onlu three players on Cleveland’s roster that did not appear in practice, including team captain Nathan Gerbe (lower-body injury), goaltender Jean-Francois Berube (lower-body injury) and defenseman Desmond Bergin.
- Defensemen Garret Cockerill, Tommy Cross and Dillon Simpson wore red “non-contact” jerseys for hitting drills, but reverted to standard black defensemen jerseys for skating drills.
MAKING A STATEMENT
After capping the regular season in style with a 5-1 road win, the Monsters picked apart the North Division Champions from Syracuse in four games in the opening round, outscoring the offense-first Crunch 14-6 over the course of a three games to one series win. Thiessen spoke Monday about his team’s surging momentum and confidence heading into the Division Finals.
Brad Thiessen, G
“It’s our job to make people kind of notice us right now…We’ve gone about our business for a month and a half, two months now and it’s been a fun ride. We slowly started to gain some momentum at the end of February, beginning of March and saw that when we play the right way we can be a real good team and tough to beat and we were able to carry that all the way through and ride that momentum through the first round.”
In Thursday’s 3-0 Game 4 win over the Crunch, Cleveland hung tough through a third period that featured a desperate Syracuse team pulling their net-minder for the majority of the period. Thiessen said the chaos that ensued was an exhausting, if not cathartic experience for him and his teammates.
Brad Thiessen, G
“I felt like it would never end! It was funny because with eleven minutes left or whenever they pulled the goalie, I was yelling at the ref that they had too many men on the ice because I didn’t think there was any reason for them to pull the goalie that early but the guys did a great job…You knew [the Crunch] were going to put on a push, they were a desperate team and on their last ropes there so it was a good job by everyone to kind of hold the fort.”
LONG AND WINDING ROAD
After battling injuries for much of the 2017-18 season, Thiessen’s role to start this campaign was as a third option in the Monsters’ cage and as the team’s de facto goaltending coach. Thiessen said Monday that finding himself as the team’s starter for the final ten-plus games of the regular season and on into the playoffs has been a fulfilling turn of events.
Brad Thiessen, G
“That’s kind of the best way to put it – going with the flow. It’s been something that I think nobody really expected how it was going to work out but it was a great opportunity given to me by the organization to be that mentor/coach for the other two goalies here with the situations that have gone on with injuries and things like that have given me the opportunity to step in and play and I’ve been able to really enjoy that.”
“To be honest, when you get to a little bit of an older age and you’re not sure how much longer it’s going to be, it’s just really trying to enjoy every time you get to be out there because you never really know when it’s going to be the last one so to me every time I get to step on the ice is just a blessing to be able to get to play hockey again and to be out there with the guys is fun and I just try to enjoy that.”
“I think the situation that we did have with me kind of taking a step back and coaching at the beginning of the year kind of helped me get my feet under me as far as playing goes having gone most of the season last year without really playing. Being able to get on the ice and practice and get back up to speed without having to face real bullets I guess you could say until the last half of the year, it helped me I think.”
REFOCUSING FOR ROUND TWO
Thiessen also addressed his team’s second-round opponent on Monday and outlined Cleveland’s mentality heading into the North Division Final.
Brad Thiessen, G
“First thing is, they’ve been through this before. They’re the defending champions, so a lot of guys over there know what it takes. We played them a lot earlier in the year and there were some crazy comebacks and a lot of weird games that went on there so I don’t know how much you can take from those in terms of what it’s going to be like in playoff hockey, but for them to knock off Rochester like they did, they’re playing their best hockey right now and we’re going to have to continue what we’re doing.”
Here’s your friendly broadcast reminder - be sure to join me for Game 1 of the best-of-seven game North Division Final as we’ll bring you every second of the action, live from Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto, on Wednesday, May 1st at 7:00 pm EST on FOX Sports Ohio, Alt 99.1, AHLTV and the Monsters Hockey Network.