CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Monsters will not get a chance to defend their Calder Cup Championship.
One year after a magical 15-2 run through the postseason, including a 10-game winning streak that saw them sweep the then-defending champion Ontario Reign and the Eastern Conference’s best, the Hershey Bears, in the final two series, the Monsters fell one point short of this year’s tournament.
Needing the Charlotte Checkers to lose on the road to the Chicago Wolves in regulation to clinch the No. 4 spot in the Central Division, the Monsters were left on the outside looking in when despite Chicago scoring two late goals, the game went into overtime.
Although Charlotte lost to Chicago in overtime, the one point drew them even with the Monsters, and the Checkers held the tiebreaker.
Despite heavy losses of players to the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are battling the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs and having to adjust to a new coaching staff, the Monsters finished the season with 86 points by posting a 39-29-4-4 record.
During a difficult stretch run against teams above them in the standings, including road games at the Wolves, Grand Rapids Griffins, Milwaukee Admirals and the Iowa Wild late in the season, the Monsters posted a 7-2-1-0 record over their final 10 outings.
Although the Monsters were alternating goaltenders on a regulation basis because the Blue Jackets were auditioning a backup for likely Vezina Trophy candidate Sergei Bobrovsky, they finished with the third-fewest goals allowed, 198, in the Central Division.