The Manchester Monarchs, AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, edged out the Springfield Falcons, AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets, 2-1 Thursday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the race for the elusive Calder Cup.

          The Monarchs came into the night trying to hold off a possible series sweep by the Falcons. Springfield Falcons head coach, Brad Larsen gave goalie Curtis McElhinney the start while at the other crease Martin Jones was given the start by Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. With a big crowd on hand for the game started with the Monarchs controlling most of the puck. It wasn’t too long until the first penalty was called; it was on Falcons’ Cody Bass, who netted Game 1 and 2 OT game-winners. Bass went to the box for slashing only 3:14 into the first. It wouldn’t take long for the Monarchs to take advantage of their power play as a pass from Colton Yellow Horn bounced for the boards and was collected by Monarchs’ defenseman Nick Deslauriers who held the puck across the blue line taking a slap shot which beat McElhinney give the Monarchs an early 1-0 lead. Deslauriers’s goal would be his second of the playoffs and came at 4:49 on the first. At 6:45 of the first Vincent LoVerde went to the box for hooking, only 32 seconds after that penalty the Monarchs were called for another penalty for tripping was assigned to Derek Forbort giving the Falcons a 2-man advantage. With only 2 seconds left on Loverde’s penalty the Falcons were able to capitalize with a shot from the blue line by Falcons’ defenseman David Savard getting it by Jones’ right side knotting the game up at 1 apiece. There went on to be 3 more penalties in the first, one to Nick Holden and two 5 minute majors for fighting in a bout between Falcons’ Ryan Craig and Monarchs’ Scott Sabourin. After the first period of play the shot were 14-14 In the Monarchs favor.

          The second period started with yet again another penalty to the Monarchs just 25 seconds into the second assigned to captain Marc-Andre Cliche, but was killed off by the Monarchs. After that penalty both teams were playing pretty even with a lot of back-and-forth action getting good shots on both goalies. A bench minor for too many men on the ice was called on the Monarchs for the second time this series at 7:49 but the Monarchs were spot on for their penalty kill once again. Jones came up huge as the Falcons caught the Monarchs in a line change for a 2-on-0 situation but Jones had a marvelous sliding right pad save keeping the Monarchs up by one. There was a goaltender interference penalty called on Falcons’ Michael Chaput at 14:49 who wasn’t too happy about the call. Only 49 seconds into the Monarchs power play, David Meckler answered when he shot the puck from up close on McElhinney who blocked the puck away with his left pad giving the rebound right back to Meckler getting it over McElhinney, netting his first of the playoffs giving the Monarchs a crucial 2-1 lead late in the second. There were only two more penalties called in the second, one on Jordan Weal at 18:25 and one on Boone Jenner at 18:58, both for hooking giving the teams a 4-on-4, but no goals were scored. After the second period the shot total was 24-23 in favor of Manchester.

              It was a very quite first half of the third as they continued to go back-and-forth. Only one penalty in the third was at 8:20 on David Kolomatis for hooking. From that penalty the Falcons gained more and more momentum keeping the puck in there zone for a good portion of the second half of the third, the Monarchs clearing the puck rarely, fortunately Jones came up big at the end has the final buzzer rang. The Monarchs only had 4 shots in the third while the Falcons had 10. The final shot total was 33-28 Springfield. All the goals in the game were scored on power plays has the Monarchs went 2-for-4 while the Falcons went 1-for-6. The third start of the game was Deslauriers, who scored the Monarchs first goal, the second was Jones with an outstanding 32 save performance, and finally the first was Meckler, scoring the eventual game-winner for the Monarchs. The Monarchs look to even the series up at 2 in game 4 on Saturday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH. If the Monarchs win, game 5 will be played Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. at the MassMutual Center down in Springfield, MA.

Justin Cummings