The Manchester Monarchs, AHL Affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, battled out a very tough competitive game Friday night. The Monarchs hosted the Springfield Falcons, AHL Affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets, in a very exciting and competitive 4-3 shootout loss at the Verizon Wireless Arena.


             The two top teams in the Eastern Conference were playing, so it was obvious neither team would go down without a fight. The game start time was delayed 15 minutes due to the late arrival of the Falcons since they got caught up in traffic heading to the arena. Before the delayed puck drop, the Monarchs were on top of the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division, posting a 34-14-2-5 record with 75 points. On the other hand, the Falcons were in second place in the Eastern Conference and first in the Northeast Division, collecting 69 points with a record of 32-15-1-4. Monarchs head coach, Mark Morris, gave Martin Jones the start, who is rumored to be getting the call up to the Kings any day by now. At the other side of the rink, Falcons head coach, Brad Larsen, put Mike McKenna between the two red posts. The Monarchs did have a new face in the lineup as two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Colin Fraser was playing. He passed waivers and was sent down to Manchester over the Olympic break.


            Once the puck finally dropped, and only 25 seconds into the first period, the Falcons were the first to make a trip to the penalty box, but the Monarchs didn't cash in on the power play opportunity, which has been a struggle for them the far through the season. The Falcons had most, if not, all of the control of the play during the first period. The Monarchs came out flat in the first; they were not aggressive at all, making it easy for the Falcons to enter the zone. The first goal of the game came at 4:01 of the first period as Falcons forward, Sean Collins, skated down the left wing side, passed the puck to the slot and eventually was knocked past Jones by Paul Thompson, giving the Falcons an early 1-0 lead. The Falcons were called for another penalty just before the 10:00 mark of the first and the puck did go in the net.....but not for the Monarchs. The Falcons scored a shortie as Darryl Boyce moved into the zone with puck and was able to make a great deke to get by Andrew Bodnarchuk. Boyce got in front of the net where he eventually backhanded it past Jones for a 2-0 Falcons lead. Things were not looking good for the Monarchs at that point, just lifeless in the first. The Monarchs did get called for two penalties later in the first, but the Falcons couldn't light the lamp. Those two penalties assigned to the Monarchs would be the only two for the whole game they would get. The first period ended with the shots at 13-7 Springfield.


          The Monarchs were much better in the second period. They weren't making as many mistakes as they were in the first, more shots were being fired off, and they were in the Falcons' zone for longer periods of time. Before you knew it, the Monarchs made it 2-1 when Nick Shore buried home a rebound from Vincent LoVerde’s original point shot that was saved. That goal came 5:34 into the second. Shore's goal would be the only goal that was made in the second. Springfield was called for two penalties but, once again, no pucks went over the red line during the power play opportunities. The second period had quite of bit of action and both ends of the ice, both teams getting numerous shot off, and both goaltenders making great saves at each end. At the end of the second, the shot total was 22-19 Manchester, a far better period for the Monarchs.


          The Monarchs just kept on getting better and better throughout the game. They controlled most of the play in the 3rd period. Shot after shot after shot, but McKenna was there to stop them. With just over 13 minutes left to play in the 3rd, Colin Miller got the puck right off the face off and let it fly, putting it top shelf past McKenna knotting the game up at two. Jordan Weal got one of the two assists on that goal after winning the face off. The other one went to Sean Backman who helped poke it to Miller. The Falcons were able to put another one past Jones with 9 minutes to go in the third as Tim Erixon made the original shot at the blue line. The puck was deflected, bounced off Jones and got past him. The goal was credited to Paul Thompson, whichever as his second of the game. The Monarchs wouldn't go down with a fight and they got a big power play opportunity when the Falcons were called for another penalty with 4 minutes to go. Jones made a great long pass over to Jordan Weal who buried the puck in the net, tying the game up at 3 with about 2:00 left in the 3rd and ending the power play drought. This game was going to overtime, 60 minutes was not enough to settle this one out. The shots at the end of regulation were 34-22 Manchester. The Monarchs were just dominating the whole over time period, getting chances left and right, one of their best overtime periods this season. There was once chance in OT where Zach O'Brien had a great opportunity, but was robbed by McKenna. The overtime shot total alone was 7-1 in favor of the Monarchs. The only Falcons shot went off the post. 65 minutes weren't enough either and for the second straight game, the Monarchs went to a shootout. Unfortunately no Monarch was able to score, while the Falcons did, two times. The Monarchs fell to the Falcons 4-3 Friday night, but we're able to pick up at least a point. The Monarchs were 1 for 5 on the power play while the Falcons went 0 for two.


          With the Monarchs one point collected Friday night, there record is now 34-14-2-6 with 76 points, staying in first in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. The Falcons improved to 33-15-1-4 with 71 points, finding themselves first in the Northeast Division and 2nd in the Eastern Conference. The Monarchs are back at it Saturday night as they take on the Portland Pirates, AHL Affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH. The Monarchs will also play Sunday in Manchester against the Worcester Sharks.

Three Stars if the Game:

#1 - Paul Thompson (2 G)
#2 - Jordan Weal (1 G, 1 A)
#3 - Darryl Boyce (1 G, 1 A)

Justin Cummings