Manchester Wins VIP Cup Opener
MANCHESTER, NH - The Manchester Monarchs took the first match-up of the inaugural VIP Cup with a 6-4 come from behind win over the Portland Pirates at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday night.
Manchester (3-1-0-0) ranks first in the Atlantic Division with six points. The Pirates (1-2-0-0) sit in fourth place in the division with two points.
“We proved to ourselves that we could come back and I guess that’s the good part about the effort tonight,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “I thought we were really strong in the third (period). (We) did not play with a whole lot of structure but the compete was there. Our opening shift was abysmal. I thought we were in for another night like we did last night but credit the guys with sticking to their guns and having a big third (period).”
At 9:02 of the third period, the Monarchs increased their lead to 5-3 with a goal from center Linden Vey. Left wing Tanner Pearson fed a pass from the left wing boards at center ice to Vey skating down the right wing. Vey carried the puck passed the Pirates defense and skated in on the net. Vey deked to his backhand and brought the puck back to his forehand before slipping the puck five-hole on Pirates netminder Chad Johnson for the eventual game-winning goal.
Center Alexandre Bolduc put the Pirates up 1-0 just 0:44 seconds into the first period. Portland picked up the puck on the left wing side of the neutral zone on a broken up pass by left wing Rob Klinkhammer. Bolduc took the puck to the back of the net after his shot was deflected off of goaltender Martin Jones’ left pad and went top shelf. Defenseman Chris Summers was credited with an assist on Bolduc’s second goal of the season.
The Pirates extended their lead to 2-0 after forward Chris Conner scored on the power play at 16:25 of the first period. The Monarchs attempted to clear the puck but defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson intercepted the pass out of the air at the center point. Ekman-Larsson took the puck up for a slap shot which was blocked. Before defenseman Slava Voynov could control the puck, forward Ethan Werek slapped it away allowing Conner to net his third goal of the season.
The Monarchs cut the deficit to 2-1 when Pearson scored a power play goal on a deflection at 13:08 of the middle stanza. Defenseman David Kolomatis took a wrist shot from the right point. Pearson deflected Kolomatis’ shot mid-flight and tipped the puck over the stick side of Johnson for his first professional goal.
The Monarchs capitalized on the power play as Pearson reconnected with Kolomatis minutes later to tie the game up at 2-2. Kolomatis took a wrist shot from the left point that produced a rebound into the left wing corner. Vey tracked down the loose puck and played it back to Kolomatis for another wrist shot. Kolomatis’ shot was again tipped by Pearson and found the back of the net at 15:37 of the second period.
The Pirates answered back, taking a 3-2 lead as Conner scored his second goal of the game at 16:10 of the middle stanza. Right wing Chris Brown passed the puck to Conner along the left wing. Conner got behind the defense and skated in on Jones before slipping a backhand shot that found the back of the net. Defenseman Mathieu Brodeur also tallied an assist on Conner’s fourth goal of the season.
The Monarchs tied the game for the second time at 3-3 with a goal by Voynov. After taking the puck down the left wing boards and gaining the Pirates zone, right wing Stefan Legein passed across the ice to Voynov at the top of the right wing face-off circle. The defenseman hammered the puck past Johnson at 18:44 of the second period. Right wing Brandon Kozun also tallied an assist on Voynov’s first goal of the season.
The Monarchs took their first lead of the game at 2:08 of the final period as right wing Tyler Toffoli put Manchester up 4-3 with a shorthanded goal. Defenseman Andrew Campbell pushed the puck up through the neutral zone along the left wing side when Toffoli swooped in behind the defense and took the puck to the net before wristing a shot top shelf over the glove of Johnson. Manchester Jones was also credited with an assist on the goal.
The Pirates pulled within a goal at 13:25 of the third period with a goal by center Brendan Shinnimin. Denseman David Rundblad kept the puck in the Monarchs zone along the left wing boards. Rundblad found Shinnimin in between the face-off circles for a quick wrist shot. Shinnimin’s initial shot was blocked but he recovered his own shot and put it over the right shoulder of Jones to bring the score to 5-4. Shinnimin’s first professional goal was also assisted by Bolduc.
The Monarchs grabbed an insurance goal at 19:41 of the final period as center Andrei Loktionov took a pass from left wing Richard Clune at center ice. Loktionov skated in all alone and guided the puck into the net for his second goal of the season. Center Marc-Andre Cliche also tallied an assist on the insurance goal.
Jones (3-1-0) earned his third win of the season making saves on 24-of-28 shots. Johnson (0-2-0) took his second loss of the season registering 30 saves on 35 shots.
Manchester went 2-for-6 on the power play. Portland was 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
Notables: The Monarchs won a game after trailing by two goals for the first time this season…The Monarchs are tied for first among all AHL teams for shorthanded goals with two this season…Manchester left wing Tanner Pearson recorded three points (2-1-3) including his first professional goal…Goaltender Martin Jones (3-1-0) has started all four games for the Monarchs this season.
The Monarchs return to action against the Worcester Sharks at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday, October 27 at 7:00 p.m. Catch all of the play-by-play action of Monarchs hockey with Ken Cail online on the Monarchs Radio Network at WGIRAM.com and at ManchesterMonarchs.com, presented by Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.