View From The Booth...That's a Wrap

Hello again, hockey fans, and welcome to another edition of "The View From The Booth." First off, I would like to say thanks to everyone who made my first season in the American Hockey League a very, very memorable one. It seems like the season just started. It went by extremely fast and I had an amazing time with our team, all of our hockey staff and the great fans we have in Cleveland. It was truly awesome to be involved in such a great organization and I am already looking forward to next season!

With that said, I would like to look back at the 2009-2010 season for a few highlights and a few thoughts on our season.

Let's start with the season opener in Rochester on October 3rd. It was a game that the Monsters found a way to win with just a few ticks of the clock remaining. Head coach David Quinn put Darren Haydar and Phil Dupuis up front and, with six seconds remaining in overtime, Dupuis found a way to bang home a loose puck down low. The Monsters skated away with the extra point and a victory on opening night.

For all of us, it was a terrific way to start the season. I will never forget that game, my first in the AHL. In fact, it meant so much to me that I kept the final game sheet/box score and last week at practice I had all of the guys sign it, which I plan on framing as a keepsake with an official game puck from each team in the frame as well. It's something I will always cherish.

Moving on, the months of October and November were certainly trying for our team. It was interesting to watch our young players adapt to the pro game, the speed, the intensity and the grind of an 80-game schedule.

It was in December that our guys started to find the groove. It was about halfway through the month that things really started to click for the Monsters. I remember a Sunday afternoon game at home against the Chicago Wolves as a real turning point for our team. The night before, Chicago really took it to our guys but the next afternoon the switch came on in a big win over the Wolves. It felt like things were really headed in the right direction and as it turned out, they were.

On to January, where our players and staff really enjoyed some success, especially on a six-game road trip early in the month that included some huge wins in Hamilton against the eventual Western Conference Champs.

I remember Marty Sertich getting the game winner in Rochester on a Saturday afternoon, also a game that Billy Sauer played his first AHL game in his hometown and he really stood on his head to give our guys a chance to win.

The following Monday Sertich came through again with another game winner in overtime on a 4-3 power play against Hamilton on the road. It was a great effort by our guys and Tyler Weiman was dynamite in net that night.

Two nights later in Hamilton, the Monsters again turned in another amazing effort against Hamilton and ended up winning a crazy game that featured a handful of goals in the final three minutes.

From Hamilton, our team headed across Canada to Abbotsford, British Columbia, for the first time in franchise history. The first night against the Heat the Monsters played flawless hockey and picked up the win. The next afternoon, our guys got out to a 3-0 lead and a 5-1-0-0 road trip was in sight. But over the final two periods, it seemed everything the Heat put on goal went into the back of the net and the six-game trip ended 4-2-0-0 after a 6-3 loss.

February continued to be very good to the Monsters with some huge wins mixed in along the way. I remember the game on February 12th against Hamilton. It was Tyler Weiman bobblehead night and Weiman played incredible in helping the Monsters earn a shootout win.

I vividly remember the last two games of February against the Grand Rapids Griffins at The Q. The Saturday night game on February 27th was a great win. Brian Willsie ripped a bullet upstairs early in the third period that proved to be the game winner.

The next day was one of the craziest games of the season. The Monsters held a 5-1 lead late in the game, only to watch that dwindle away and eventually had to win the game in a shootout with rookie goalie Chris Whitley in net.

March was a very tough month on everyone, myself included. It was emotional and tough to see our guys battle hard and not get rewarded throughout the majority of the month.

One game that stands out was the Sunday afternoon game in early March in Chicago when the Monsters were down 4-1 but came back to tie the game before losing in an eight-round shootout to a very talented Chicago team.

In April our guys were in the playoff hunt until the next to last weekend of the season. A loss in Peoria at the end of a three-game trip eliminated our boys from the Calder Cup playoffs, a loss that was very tough to swallow.

I sincerely hope the 2010-11 season brings a Calder Cup Playoff berth to our organization. Everyone in the organization clearly deserves it because so many people work so hard every day, from the office staff, to the ticket sales staff, to the media communications staff, to our general manager, our coaches, players, trainers, and the equipment staff. They are all people who have an incredible passion for what they do and they do it in a first class and professional manner every single day.

I again want to thank all of our staff for a great first season for me. They made this season so much fun for me. I have told a lot of people this and I will say it again. Our hockey staff and players are the best I’ve ever worked with and they are all great people that I look forward to working with again next season. And for our great fan base, thank you for your support and passion for the Monsters. We need you every day and night and you've been great!

I hope you've enjoyed "The View From The Booth" columns throughout the season. I will continue to do them during the offseason. I also plan on writing some Calder Cup Playoff previews, stories, etc., and even some Colorado Avalanche and Stanley Cup Playoff features.

Remember, you can always email me at No Holden Back. I would love to hear from you anytime!

Sincerely,

Ben Holden.

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