The Manchester Monarchs, AHL Affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, dropped 2 points to one of their Atlantic Division rivals, the Providence Bruins, AHL Affiliate of the Boston Bruins. The Monarchs hosted the P-Bruins on their 4th annual “Pink the Rink Night” to help support breast cancer victims, survivors, and research at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday night.

Not only did the Monarchs enter the night finding themselves on top of the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division with a record of 30-13-2-5 with 67 points but with two key players back in the lineup, after being assigned to the Monarchs by the Los Angeles Kings’ GM, Dean Lombardi. Forward Tyler Toffoli and Co-Rookie of the month for December, goaltender Martin Jones, who was the starter for the Monarchs Saturday night, were both assigned to Manchester on Friday. Both Toffoli and Jones are expected to be with the Monarchs for the entire 2-3 weeks that the NHL has off with the break due to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.  The P-Bruins came to the Verizon Wireless Arena 3rd in the Atlantic Division posting a 24-18-1-6 along with 55 points. With Monarchs head coach, Mark Morris giving Jones the nod to start, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy put Niklas Svedberg between the pipes. Before the puck drop, the Monarchs put a class act on when each player walked a breast cancer survivor to center ice like they were attending prom with them, a very nice gesture by the Manchester Monarchs organization. With the nice clean sheet of pink ice, the puck was ready to get dropped by the assigned referee for the night, Graham Skilliter.

The 1st period started with calm back and forth action. There were no really good opportunities for either team. A shot or two there and by 1/3 of the way through the 1st the intensity started to pick up. More and more shots were being fired off from each team, but both, Jones and Svedberg stood their ground. Just under half way through the first frame, Monarchs captain Andrew Campbell and Bruins Tyler Randell dropped the gloves after Randell went over to respond to Campbell after he delivered a big hit on a Bruin. The first puck crossed the red goal line at 15:55 of the first when Monarchs defenseman, Derek Forbort, went to the sin-bin for holding the stick and just 27 seconds into the penalty Matt Fraser responding coming into the slot area, finding a rebound and burying it behind Jones giving the P-Bruins a 1-0 lead. Since that goal, the action only picked up with more chances coming from both ends. The first period ended with the shots 9-8 in favor of the Monarchs, who found themselves down by one heading into the locker room.

       Early in the second, 3:18 to be exact, the Bruins were called for a bench minor, too many men on the ice. The Monarchs had a lot of great chances on the power play but were unable to capitalize on it……again. 2 minutes after their power play expired they found the back of the net as Monarchs’ Nick Deslauriers knocked down the puck at the blue line, skated down the LW and fired a wrist shot on Svedberg, who stopped most if it, Nick went to try and tap it in, but in the process Nick’s stick hit the post and flung back striking a P-Bruin in the face and drew blood. The goal would count as it trickled by Svedberg, but Deslauriers went straight to the penalty box afterwards which led everyone in the arena scratching their heads on this very bizarre penalty. Luckily, the Monarchs were able to kill the double minor high-sticking penalty. Later on in the period, with about 8 minutes left in the second, the P-Bruins scored again when Andrew Cherniwchan picked up the loose puck in front of Jones and knocked it in the net over his blocker, giving them a 2-1 advantage. The second period ended with the Monarchs down by one once again and the shot total 17-14 Manchester.

          The Monarchs came out in the third period with a lot more energy and getting more chances. Very early in the third, there was a beautiful tic-tac-toe play between Vincent LoVerde, Linden Vey, and Tyler Toffoli. Vey finished off the play by wristing one past Svedberg but the net appeared to go off its moorings. What was originally signaled as a goal was disallowed. One thing about that play was it looked like Svedberg, with his skate, pushed the net off which seemed to be purposely. Play resumed, but P-Bruins scored to make it 3-1, as Mike Moore shot one past Jones. The Monarchs controlled most of the third period play and Vey was at it again as Deslauriers sent a pass over to Vey who stuffed the puck past Svedberg as the net, once again, came of its moorings, but this time the puck crossed the red goal line before the net got off. There was a little bit of work that needed to be attended to the net since the net wouldn’t stay on the pegs supposedly. For the second straight time it looked like Svedberg leaned to hard on the net post and the net “accidently” came off the pegs once again. Clearly Svedberg was intentionally trying to get the net of its moorings. Mark Morris was noticeably upset with the officiating of tonight’s game and was not happy when the Bruins took off their own net as he stated in a post game interview. Since Vey’s goal the Monarchs just kept getting shots one by one off, but Svedberg bailed his teammates out with some great saves. With Jones being pulled with a minute and a half to go and a penalty on the P-Bruins with 20 seconds left, the Monarchs couldn’t capitalize and fell 3-2 to the P-Bruins in a controversial game involving the net and Niklas Svedberg in front of a big crowd, 9,552 fans. The shots at the end of the game were 33-21 Manchester. Both teams went 1 for 4 on the power play.

        The Monarchs fell to 30-14-2-5 finding themselves tied for first in the Eastern Conference with the Springfield Falcons, but remaining in first in the Atlantic Division. The P-Bruins improved to 25-18-1-6 moving into 8th in the conference and remaining in 3rd in the division. The Monarchs will face-off against the Albany Devils, AHL Affiliate of the New Jersey Devils, on Sunday, February 9th at 3:00 pm at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH.


Three Stars of the Game:

                   #1. Niklas Svedberg

                   #2. Nick Deslauriers

                   #3. Mike Moore


         Justin Cummings --- @_justincummings