By Eddie Graveline, GloveDropper.com
Although they have yet to play a single shift on home ice this season, the WSHL Fresno Monsters have been hard at work for the past month or so. This past weekend, they made their third road trip of the season with a 3-game series against the Phoenix Knights. As they had on their previous trips, the Monsters were able to collect three more wins and improved to a perfect 9-0 record before the home opener this coming weekend.
The Monsters got the weekend off to a good start on Friday night with a 6-2 win over the Knights. Defenseman David Kann, who is a third-year Monster, led the scoring with two goals, while Stanton Turner had a solid night with a goal and an assist. Marcus Harbison made 20 saves in goal for the Monsters, who outshot Phoenix 44-22 on the night.
On Saturday, the Monsters played an even tighter game, winning by a score of 5-1. Justin Plate broke through in a huge way by not only scoring his first goal of the season, but getting his second and third while he was at it. Two of the goals in his hat trick came on the power play. Michael Freeman and Nick McKee got in on the action with two assists each. The Monsters were 3 for 4 on the power play and Tom McGuckin had a great game in net, saving all but one of the 25 shots he faced.
It seems as though Phoenix was worn out by the time Sunday's game rolled around. The Monsters administered a 10-3 beat down to finish the series sweep. Jason Beisinger had two goals and an assist and Nick McKee added two goals of his own. Justin Plate followed up Saturday's scoring outburst with another goal and an assist. The Monsters dominated as evidenced by their 53-27 advantage in shots on goal.
Head Coach Bryce Dale was pleased with the outcome of the trip, but is already looking ahead in the schedule. "Phoenix was a great experience for us, especially winning all three games," he said. "We continued to raise our competitive level up toward where it needs to be for us to be prepared to face Idaho in front of our own fans."
Coach Dale is right in that the WSHL team will probably face their toughest challenge of the young season as they host the Idaho Jr. Steelheads in their home opening series this weekend. The Monsters and Steelheads have developed a bitter rivalry over the past two seasons and that's very unlikely to change. The WSHL team will hit the ice at Selland Arena at 3:30 PM on Friday and Saturday and at 10:30 AM on Sunday.