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Wolves can’t unlock Monsters

Cleveland 3 | Chicago 0
Monsters' Vehvilainen earns shutout to close out Wolves' road trip

Veini Vehvilainen posted 16 saves to guide the Cleveland Monsters to a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Wolves on Friday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Playing their fifth game in seven nights, the Wolves (8-12-1-0) suffered their fourth shutout of the season. Former Wolves forward Stefan Matteau assisted on the first two goals for Cleveland (10-7-1-1) to earn second-star honors behind Vehvilainen.

Chicago’s defense was stellar at the outset. The Wolves didn’t allow a shot during the first 10 minutes, but needed eight minutes to register their first shot on net.

Both teams picked up the pace in the second period, but only the Monsters took advantage. Veteran center Nathan Gerbe opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 9:22. He unleashed a blast from the left circle that goaltender Garret Sparks never saw due to the Monster camped in front of him.

Cleveland center Kevin Stenlund made it 2-0 at 12:52 as the hosts capitalized when Wolves alternate captain Patrick Brown broke his stick in the defensive zone. The Monsters worked the puck around until Stenlund fired from the top of the left circle into traffic. His shot ticked off a Wolves defenseman’s stick and changed direction as it reached Sparks.

The Monsters pushed their margin to 3-0 at 5:03 of the third as forward Jakob Lilja blocked a Wolves shot at the point. The ricochet went straight to teammate Ryan MacInnis as Lilja raced ahead, accepted a pass and got ahead of the lone defender for a quick wrister.

Sparks (4-7-1) finished with 22 saves while Vehvilainen (4-5-0) recorded his second shutout of the season.

The Wolves return to Allstate Arena at 7 p.m. Wednesday to face the Grand Rapids Griffins on Craft Beer Night.