Monarchs Pass With Flying Colors
MANCHESTER, NH – It was a nail biter until the end as the Manchester Monarchs hung on to a 4-3 lead over the Hartford Wolf Pack during the team’s first School Day Game at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Wednesday morning.
Manchester (9-6-1-1) moved back into second place in the Atlantic Division with 20 points. Hartford (4-10-2-2) is in seventh place in the Atlantic Division with 12 points.
“I don’t think it had much impact on how we played,” explained Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris in reference to the 11:00 a.m. start time. “I’m pleased with how we played. I’m encouraged to see our power play execute. I saw a lot of good things in the game but we just want to be more consistent. We could have performed better in the third period. (Jeff) Zatkoff saved us late in the game by coming up with a big save.”
Center Justin Azevedo scored the game’s fourth power play goal, the Monarchs third tally with the man advantage, at 15:43 of the middle frame. Holding the puck along the left wing half wall, Azevedo took two steps into the left face-off circle before wristing the puck into the right corner of the net beating Johnson on his glove side. Defensemen Patrick Mullen and Alec Martinez assisted on Azevedo’s fifth goal of the season and the eventual game-winner.
Hartford jumped out to the early 1-0 lead with defenseman Pavel Valentenko’s first goal of the season just 28 seconds into the game. Center Kris Newbury won the face-off to the left of Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff. Newbury drew the puck back to Valentenko at the left point who took three steps toward the center point before he sniped a shot past Zatkoff low on the right side.
“We hung in there and didn’t get rattled,” said Morris following the early goal by Hartford.
Monarchs rookie center Jordan Nolan tallied his first AHL goal at 6:08 of the first period to tie the game at 1-1. Azevedo put the puck deep in the Wolf Pack’s zone for left wing Bud Holloway to pick up and try to stuff into the net from the left doorstep. Netminder Chad Johnson denied Holloway at point blank range but Nolan was at the top of the crease to jam in the goal.
Manchester took the 2-1 lead at 18:35 of the opening frame with Martinez’s fifth goal of the season. Skating on a 4-on-3 power play, defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov sent the puck over to Martinez at the right point who then carried it into the high slot. Finding an open lane, Martinez snapped a high wrist shot that beat Johnson for his team-leading 12th point of the season. Holloway picked up his second assist of the game on the go-ahead goal.
Wolf Pack right wing Jeremy Williams netted his ninth goal of the season, a power play tally, to even the game at 2-2 midway through the second period. Williams wound up for the slap shot from the high slot to bury the puck through traffic and into the back of the net. Center Tim Kennedy and left wing Brodie Dupont assisted on the tying goal.
Just over a minute later, Voynov scored his third goal of the season to give the Monarchs a 3-2 lead. Skating with the man advantage, the Monarchs cycled the puck in Hartford’s zone. Center Oscar Moller served as the point person on the power play and found center Andrei Loktionov along the left wing half wall. Loktionov connected with Voynov as he came streaking down the right wing for a one-timer and goal.
Williams brought the game to within one goal with his second tally of the contest at 5:10 of the third period. Newbury found Williams skating down the right wing of the Monarchs zone. Firing a one-timer, Williams beat Zatkoff for his 10th goal of the season. Right wing Kelsey Tessier assisted on the tally.
Zatkoff (6-5-1) earned his sixth victory of the season by making 22 saves on 25 shots on goal. Johnson (3-10-1) dropped his 10th game of the season, halting 28-of-32 shots on net.
Manchester was 3-for-6 on the power play. Hartford was 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
Notables: Hartford’s goal 28 seconds into the first period is the fastest opening goal by an opponent this season…The Monarchs three power play goals in today’s game are the most goals they have scored in one game this season when skating with the man advantage…Defenseman Alec Martinez collected a goal and an assist to move into the AHL’s lead among defenseman with 16 points (5-11=16)…Martinez has five points (1-4=5) in his last two games…Defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov is on a three game scoring streak with four points (2-2=4) in three games…Center Jordan Nolan scored his first AHL goal today.
The Monarchs finish their five-game home stand with a 7:00 p.m. contest with the Worcester Sharks on Friday, November 19 at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Catch all of the play-by-play action of Monarchs hockey with Ken Cail on the Monarchs Radio Network WGAM 900/1250 AM as well as on WTPL The Pulse 107.7 FM, WEEY 93.5 FM and WMXR MAXX 93.9 FM, and at www.manchestermonarchs.com