Compliments of COVID-19, the 2020-21 AHL season is far more a sprint than even the NHL's shortened, 56-game schedule.
So even though they're just three games into the season, the Cleveland Monsters are down to just two dozen games left after Monday night's game - the first of four straight (!) against the Rockford IceHogs.
It will be the only four meetings of the 28 game season between the affiliates of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks, with games Monday and Tuesday in Rockford and two more Saturday and Sunday in Cleveland.
Here's to hoping that the Monsters can find some rhythm as, thus far, none of the Monsters three games have resulted in a win.
In the season opener on February 12th, the Monsters gave up seven goals in the final two periods to the Rochester Americans (affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres). This came following goals from Nathan Gerbe and Zac Dalpe, giving the Monsters a 2-0 lead after the opening frame. Cleveland goalie Brad Thiessen allowed six goals on 33 shots.
Gerbe and Dalpe assisted on a Trey Fix-Wolansky goal the next night in the Monsters home opener against the Grand Rapids Griffins (affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings), but it was the only score of the game for Cleveland as they'd lose 3-1 to the Griffins.
The Monsters first point of the season would come a week later, albeit in an overtime loss to the same Grand Rapids team. Ryan MacInnis was the only goal-scorer for the Monsters in game three, and the Griffins would win the game 2-1 on an overtime power play goal, sending Cleveland to an 0-2-1 start.
When the Monsters return home for the second half of the series against the IceHogs, a limited number of fans will be in attendance at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. It will be the first professional hockey league game with fans in the state of Ohio since March 7th, 2020, when the team hosted Laval before the season was paused, and eventually cancelled.