View From The Booth...Review and Preview

Hello again, hockey fans, and welcome to another edition of “The View From The Booth!” The Monsters remain in the thick of the North Division playoff race and that is welcome news to us all.

Last week the Monsters took four of a possible six points in the three games they played. Wednesday’s 3-0 shutout win at home against Milwaukee was a great team effort. Tyler Weiman didn’t face a lot of shots, but when he did he was focused and dialed in. Sometimes that can be extremely tough on a goalie when he’s not seeing many pucks and not moving around that much, but Weiman proved that theory wrong as he pitched his third shutout of the season. The guys in front of Tyler played very well, and over the last couple of weeks the team has really put in a lot of extra work on playing in their own end and it made a difference in the win over Milwaukee.

Last Friday, at home against Hamilton, it was again Weiman’s night, and in more ways than one. Allow me to explain. Weiman helped the Monsters beat Hamilton in a 5-4 shootout win in one of the most exciting games the Monsters have played all season. Weiman made a save on the fifth and final shooter in the shootout, Max Pacioretty, to seal the win. After making the save he showed some great emotion with a fist pump as he was down on one knee, and it was awesome and for the Monsters! It was the team’s fourth win in the last five meetings with the first place Hamilton Bulldogs.

What made the win for the Monsters, and specifically Weiman, was the fact that the organization gave out bobbleheads of Weiman before the game. No pressure there on the goalie! It was a great night and a great win for David Quinn’s team, and they earned it as they have in all of the wins against Hamilton this season.

The next night in Rochester, Weiman was injured early in the third period when Kendall McArdle drove the net and shoved defenseman Brett Skinner on to Weiman’s lower body. To me, it was an unnecessary play and hopefully Weiman will be quick to recover from the injury.

The Monsters battled hard in the game and unfortunately Rochester got the go-ahead goal with exactly one minute left in the game and held on to get the two points. The Monsters competed hard and it was a shame they didn’t get at least one point, which they would have gotten had the game gone to overtime.

In the 3-2 loss, Randy Rowe continued his red-hot play, scoring two goals on the power play. Rowe is such a competitor and a warrior. He pays the price with his body every night in front of the net and down low along the wall and in the corners. I really respect the way he plays. He gives it everything he has every night and he has made a huge impact on the Monsters since coming back to the lineup after missing a few games with a back injury.

Other guys that have been playing in the same capacity are guys like Brian Willsie, Phil Dupuis, Matt Ford, Marty Sertich and Mike Bartlett. Each of those guys just simply sellout every night and it’s such a key ingredient to the Monsters push to the playoffs. In my opinion, you have to have players with the grit and determination like the guys I just mentioned.

Obviously, players like T.J. Hensick, Darren Haydar and Ryan Stoa are enormous factors in team success because they are all so extremely talented and dynamic in their own unique ways.

Speaking of Haydar, he returned to our hockey club Saturday in Rochester after spending two games with the Colorado Avalanche. To me, the promotion was well deserved for Haydar, who has been a career AHL player and one of the best, if not the best, to ever play in the AHL. Haydar is just one of those players you pull for. He’s put in so much time as a minor league player and his play this year with the Monsters has been a big reason why they are in the playoff race.

Justin Mercier is also back with the Monsters this week after spending the last few weeks with Colorado. I think Mercier will fit right in with the Monsters this weekend when we head out east for games at Syracuse and Hershey on Friday and Saturday nights.

That is where I am heading next, our games out east. The Monsters only play four games against Eastern Conference opponents in the 2009-10 regular season. The four contests consist of the two games the Monsters play this weekend and then the same two teams come to The Q next week on Wednesday morning and Friday night.

Personally, I would rather see the Monsters play Manitoba four more times, especially since the team is battling for a playoff spot with the Moose. I understand scheduling, but I think every division team should play each other eight times, but that’s just my two cents!

Never the less, it’s off to Syracuse for a 7:30 p.m. game on Friday and then a 7:00 p.m. game against the AHL’s best team on Saturday night, the Hershey Bears. Friday’s game should be a lot of fun for Parma native Tom Fritsche and his older brother, Dan. Friday’s game will mark the first time they’ve played head-to-head as professionals.

Friday night, on the radio broadcast, I will have interviews with the Fritsche brothers and will get their feelings on their careers to this point and their first head-to-head matchup!

Friday’s game starts at 7:28 p.m. on ESPN 850 WKNR, as always, with the pregame show with head coach David Quinn. Saturday night I will be on the air at 6:58 p.m. from Hershey. I hope you’ll join me for the call of the games!

Ben Holden

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