The Manchester Monarchs, AHL Affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, battled the St. John's Ice Caps, AHL Affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets, and prevailed in a 4-3 shootout win at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Sunday afternoon in Manchester, NH. This win gave the Monarchs two points, which finished off the perfect weekend, capturing 6 out of a possible 6 points.
The Monarchs, fresh off a 4-2 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack Saturday night and riding on a 3-game winning streak, came into the afternoon with a 33-14-2-5 record along with 73 points. The Monarchs led the Eastern Conference and the Atlantic Division while the IceCaps had a 28-19-1-2 record with 59 points. The IceCaps have been a difficult team for the Monarchs this season and this would be the last time they would face each other for the rest of the regular season. Monarchs head coach, Mark Morris, gave star goaltender, Martin Jones the start while St. John's head coach, Keith McCambridge put Michael Hutchinson between the pipes. By 3:05 pm the puck was ready to drop at center ice at the Verizon Wireless Arena, where less than 24 hours, Brad Paisley occupied the arena for a concert.
The first period was very calm and boring in a way. Both teams had scoring chances, both at even strength and on the power play as the IceCaps had one power play as well as the Monarchs, but both couldn't cash in. With only three seconds left in the first, IceCaps' Carl Klingberg was called for holding the stick, giving the Monarchs a 1:57 power play opportunity to start the 2nd period. Both teams went off to their respected locker rooms after a scoreless first period. After the first period the shots were 8-6, in favor of St. John's.
Although the Monarchs started off the second period with a power play, the puck never got by Hutchinson. With 5:24 into the second, the Monarchs new player, Steve Qualier, who was recently acquired in a deal that sent him to Manchester and former Monarch Robert Czarnik to the Hamilton Bulldogs, AHL Affiliate if the Montreal Canadians, gave the Monarchs a 1-0 lead. Qualier was in a 2-on-1 who held on to the puck and shot it from the right wing circle which beat Hutchinson, which was Quailer's first goal with the Monarchs and his second on the season. The goal would be assisted by Scott Sabourin and Andrew Bodnarchuk. Just 1:35 after Quailer's goal, St. John's answered as Carl Klingberg fired a shot from high in the slot, beating Jones, knotting the game up at one a piece. The Monarchs were absolutely lost in the second period, not getting any shots off and creating numerous turnovers, in which Jones had to bail them out of by making huge saves. With the IceCaps dominating the second period, IceCaps' Jerome Samson forced a turnover, gave the puck to Adam Lowry who beat Jones 5-hole give the IceCaps a 2-1 advantage 14:16 into the second. With 2.1 seconds left in the second, Nick Deslauriers tied the game as he was able to knock home a rebound off Hutchinson's pads after the original shot, made by Derek Forbort. The Monarchs got a huge goal there and without Jones, this game could have been 10-1 after two. After two periods of play, the shots were 30-15 St. John's. 22 shots alone were made by St. John's in the second.
The third period wasn't much better for the Monarchs as St. John's was able to bury another one when Ben Chiarot shot a puck towards the net, getting deflected by John Albert, which gave the IceCaps a 3-2 lead. The Monarchs seemed to finally wake up as Hutchinson was caught mishandling the puck by Tyler Toffoli, who just got out of the box. Toffoli was pressuring Hutchinson and the puck was able to go out to Deslauriers who put the puck in a wide open net, for a 17th of the year, 6th against St. John's, tying the game once again. Toffoli added another point onto his weekend streak. No one could find the back of the net which forced the game to go into overtime. In the overtime period the Monarchs couldn't get a shot off, while the IceCaps got two. The game proceeded to go to a shootout, where Mark Morris elected his team to go first, which he always does when he gets to pick at home. First up was Nick Shore, who scored and the St. John's couldn't convert. In the second round Jordan Weal scored, and Jones stoned St. John's. The shootout went two more rounds where no one could score and it was down to Jason Jaffray, who didn't score and the Monarchs won 4-3.
The shot total at the end of the game, not including the shootout, was 43-25 IceCaps. The Monarchs went 0 for 3 on the power play while St. John's was 0 for 4. The Manchester Monarchs won all three of their weekend games capturing 6 out of a possible 6 points getting a perfect weekend. Over the course of the weekend, Tyler Toffoli had 5 goals and 2 assists for 7 points in only 3 games, a remarkable weekend for him. Martin Jones also started in all three games improving his record to 15-3-2 on his AHL season. The Monarchs improved their record to 34-14-2-5 with 75 points giving themselves a 6 point lead in first in the Eastern Conference and a 12 point lead in first in the Atlantic Division. The St. John's IceCaps fell to 28-19-1-3 with 60 points. The Monarchs will play again on Friday against the 2nd place Eastern Conference team, the Springfield Falcons at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH. The Monarchs also play on Saturday and Sunday, both at home.
Three Stars of the Game
#1 Martin Jones (40 regulation saves, stopped all 4 SO shooters)
#2 Nick Deslauriers (2 Goals)
#3 Carl Klingberg (1 Goal)
Justin Cummings -- @_justincummings