Reviewing Fresno Monsters
(Photo by Mark Mauno, WSHL)
Central Valley's, Fresno Monsters, have ascended through the ranks over the last few seasons as an initial course established by Kevin "Killer" Kaminski was successfully carried to fruition by incoming headman, Trevor Karasiewicz. It was finally the season for Fresno, in the Western Division, being fully reinvigorated with a stock of new talent but the same trusted formula that has been paying dividends.
The Monsters have been working hard to get back to the Thorne Cup ever since the 2013-2014 season when they lost to Idaho in the semi-final round. Soured after a 2-0 shutout loss, Fresno slowly fell off from the top of the standings, yet still had its chances against the Long Beach Bombers in subsequent years.
2019-2020 was Fresno's best season finish, points-wise, with 108 total points, and finished first in the division for the first time since 2014-2015. When it all seemed to commence in the worst way possible, after dropping its first four games to an expansion team, Fresno regrouped, and set the course for first place with a 34-13-2-2 record.
There was some uncertainty in net at the start of the season when names like Tyler Mathews and Maxwell Karlenzig, two pieces that were critical to their success, weren't in the plans. Well, Karlenzig made his return after an appearance in the NAHL, to secure the starting position over Sebastian Nilsson and Jayden Pasillas.
Head Coach Karasiewicz had 100% confidence in his recruitment, so much so, that when asked to provide further information on what kind of players he is focusing on, he remarked that one of them, Narek Aleksanyan, will end up being one of the better players league-wide.
He was certainly right as Aleksanyan took the Western Division, and WSHL, by storm in his first year. The East Angus, Quebec native registered 36 goals, 68 assists, and broke the 100-point threshold as an 18-year-old. Aside from being the highest scoring 18-year-old in 2019-2020, he is tied for first All-Time in single season scoring by an 18-year-old. He matches Ammon Anderson's (Ogden) 104-points from last season—though Aleksanyan required fewer games.
Supplementary scoring was abundant and so effortless when counting on big-time returners such as Zackory Turpin and Petr Philippov who remained in the same ballpark as Aleksanyan, in terms of production. Philippov improved on his rookie season by eight points, but Turpin's career year truly stands out as he more than tripled his point total from 2018-2019.
There is no shortage of talent when looking down the Monsters lineup and that's why it was able to beat out surging opponents in Ontario and San Diego, late in the season.
All it needed was a chance at the playoffs, but Fresno will need to endure another regular-season before it can revel in the fruits of its labor.
|36 Goals||68 Assists||104 Points|
|46 Goals||46 Assists||92 Points|
|32 Goals||51 Assists||83 Points|
|31 Goals||36 Assists||67 Points|
|28 Goals||32 Assists||60 Points|
|10W-2L||GAA 1.92||SV% .936|
|16W-6L-2OTL||GAA 2.74||SV% .918|