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The Monsters Report: Vol. 2

Up-and-down start for Cleveland, led in goal scoring by Hannikainen

by Rob Mixer @RobMixer /

It has been an up-and-down start for the Cleveland Monsters this season.

They've had some encouraging games and some tough losses. They've received contributions from many of their new faces, while hanging around the playoff picture despite (so far) being unable to string some wins together.

The Monsters are 6-8-1 as of Wednesday, placing them eighth in the Central Division. What's working in their favor is a game or two in hand on the teams in front of them, so a quick start after the Thanksgiving holiday will be high on the to-do list of first-year head coach John Madden. Cleveland is 3-1-2 in its last six games.

Other notes:

- The Blue Jackets activated defenseman Dillon Heatherington off the Injured Non-Roster list last week and assigned him to the Monsters. Heatherington, a second-round pick of the Blue Jackets in 2013, suffered a broken wrist in training camp, but is now medically cleared and back in game action.

- Markus Hannikainen was recalled by the Blue Jackets on Wednesday and is expected to join the team for its post-Thanksgiving road trip through Tampa Bay and Sunrise. Hannikainen, 23, is the Monsters' leading goal scorer (five) and is on his third recall with the Blue Jackets so far this season. He made his Columbus season debut against Calgary on Wednesday night, logging 9:47 TOI with two shots on goal.

- Alex Broadhurst currently leads the Monsters in scoring with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 15 games played entering Wednesday. Broadhurst was a big part of Cleveland's playoff run last spring and is playing a more prominent role this year.

- Oliver Bjorkstrand, assigned to Cleveland by the Blue Jackets in mid-October, is still trying to find his offensive touch with the Monsters. Bjorkstrand, who was so clutch for Cleveland during the Calder Cup playoffs (including the championship-winning goal late in overtime), has three goals and five points so far. Shouldn't be long before he starts heating up again.

UP NEXT: at Grand Rapids (Friday), vs. Grand Rapids (Saturday), at Grand Rapids (Wednesday)

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