The View From The Booth...In Toronto

Hello again, hockey fans, and welcome to another installment of "The View From The Booth." Today I'm writing to you from downtown Toronto. The weather here has been pretty good for late November. The first two days we were here, Saturday and Sunday, the weather was very nice, today it's foggy and damp, it feels like a late November day.

As for the Monsters, Sunday's game against the Toronto Marlies was a spirited effort, with really good intensity from the players right out of the gate. The first period was scoreless as Tyler Weiman and Toronto's James Reimer, the two starting goaltenders, were sharp. It was in the second period when Brock Bradford and Chris Durno connected for the game's first goal. Bradford took a pass and dashed up the right wing, when he was near the bottom of the faceoff circle he made a perfect pass to Durno who was driving the net hard and got a stick on the puck to put it by Reimer. That was not the first time those two have teamed up for a goal, I remember a great goalline pass by Durno to Bradford for a one-timer in that high scoring affair vs. Grand Rapids back on Sunday, November 8th at The Q. They seem to have really good chemistry and success when they are on the ice together.

The second goal the Monsters scored on Sunday was a great play, just three seconds into a power play when Darren Haydar won the face-off and the puck virtually landed right on Captain Brian Willsie's stick, right in front of the net for a power play goal. I talked to Willsie this morning (Tuesday) after practice and he said he was simply in the right place at the right time and Haydar did a great job to get the puck through to him off the face-off.

The Monsters held a 2-0 lead after the second period, and prior to this matchup with the Marlies the Monsters were perfect on the season when holding a lead after 40 minutes, something I think is so critical in controlling momentum in a game. But the Marlies came out fast in the third period. Alex Foster found the net early on in the period to make it 2-1. Shortly after that, Jiri Tlusty scored to tie the game at 2-2. Both goals were a result of broken plays. The overtime session was high tempo and high energy by the Monsters. I thought the team was going to escape with the extra point in OT when rookie Justin Mercier had a breakaway from center ice on Reimer, but Reimer came up with the stop. Mercier is still searching for his first pro goal, it will come with time. I think once it does, Mercier will start scoring more and more, something he did routinely in his college days at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
 
The game went to a shootout and Toronto struck early when Jiri Tlusty scored on the first shot. That's all the Marlies would need as they won the shootout and took the extra point. The Monsters did manage to get a valuable road point with the 3-2 shootout loss.

Wednesday's game is an early one, it begins before noon as the Marlies will host one of their three kids/school day games. I hope you'll join me for the play by play call live on 1540 AM, Cleveland's KNR2, starting with the pregame show at 10:59 AM. You can also watch the game live via the AHL Live webcast.

I think this game will be even more intense than Sunday's game, after all it will mark the third time in six days the Monsters and Marlies will meet. Anytime the same two teams are battling each other that much in a short span the intensity is usually at a very high level.

A few other items I wanted to share with you are some of the great sights and things to do here in Toronto. The first is the Hockey Hall of Fame, which I visited Tuesday and hope to have some video on our website soon to share with you. I walked through and recorded some video of many things in there including some Colorado Avalanche items, which included a piece of Monsters memorabilia. There was also some Cleveland hockey history pieces in the Hall as well, most notably, a pair of game-worn socks by our director of hockey operations, Jock Callander. My entire visit to the Hall was awesome and of course I got right up next to the Stanley Cup!

Another thing that I’ve done a couple of times here in Toronto is walk around historic Maple Leaf Gardens. Turns out, our hotel is on the same block as the Gardens. I tried to get inside on Monday but was told the Gardens are closed. Just seeing it and walking around it gives me chills, the history of the building and what it means to fans here in Toronto and all over hockey is so amazing. So many great moments happened inside the Gardens and it's awesome just to see it.

Monday night I went to watch the Maple Leafs play the New York Islanders. The Isles won in overtime 4-3 after being outshot 61-21. Isles goaltender Dwayne Roloson stood on his head and gave his team every chance to win the game. I was lucky enough to sit in the Foster Hewitt gondola at the Air Canada Centre, an incredible spot to watch a game for sure. I saw one of my friends in the broadcasting world, Billy Jaffe, who is the Islanders color analyst. He's a great guy and does a great job for the Isles and also on Versus from time to time. I also got to meet Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke and Vice President of Hockey Operations Dave Poulin. Dave is a man I dealt with in my college announcing days when he was the head coach at the University of Notre Dame. He's a great man and one of the most positive people I’ve ever met in my life.

That's about it from the YYZ, aka Toronto, yes YYZ is a great Rush song and it's also the airport code for the Toronto Airport.

Talk to you Tuesday morning on Cleveland 1540 AM, KNR2, at 10:59, for the call of the Monsters next game vs. Toronto. Of course Thanksgiving is Thursday, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, enjoy the time with your families, I know I will!

Hope to also see you at The Q Friday Night for the Monsters and Hamilton Bulldogs, and then again on Saturday afternoon for a rematch with the Bulldogs.

Until then, this is Ben Holden signing off for this installment of "The View From The Booth"

The View from the Booth Archive:
Volume 1 (10/21)
Volume 2 (10/23)
Volume 3 (10/28)
Volume 4 (11/03)
Volume 5 (11/16)

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