Manchester (15-7-1-1) recorded their 15th win of the season and remains in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division with 32 points. Worcester (10-7-1-3) is ranked third in the Atlantic Division with 24 points.
“The win today against Worcester was another solid effort,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “We’re getting contributions from everyone. It’s been enjoyable watching this team grow. The hard work and commitment they’ve shown is promising. We hope to build on our early success. November has been a good month for us.”
The scoring tandem of center Andrei Loktionov and center Oscar Moller connected for the Monarchs third goal of the game at 17:58 of the middle frame. Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff started the play by passing the puck up the ice to Loktionov. With Moller streaking down the right wing, Loktionov found his linemate who collected his fifth tally of the season to give Manchester a 3-0 advantage.
Left wing Ray Kaunisto beat Sharks goaltender Alex Stalock just 40-seconds into the second period to give the Monarchs a 1-0 advantage. Defenseman Jake Muzzin sent the puck deep into the Sharks zone where center Corey Elkins picked up the pass. Elkins found Kaunisto in the slot for the one-timer for his fourth goal of the season and the one goal lead.
The Monarchs took advantage of a power play mid-way through the second period to advance their lead to 2-0. Cycling the puck in the Sharks zone, Loktionov fed the puck to center Brayden Schenn who handed it off to left wing David Meckler in the right face-off circle. Meckler rifled a shot on net that Stalock got a piece of as the puck trickled over the goal line for his team-leading ninth goal of the season.
Following two goals and 19 saves through two periods of play, Stalock was replaced between the pipes by Sharks goaltender Riley Gill.
Left wing Bud Holloway tipped in his fifth goal of the season at 2:07 of the final stanza. Skating on the power play, Muzzin fed the puck down low to Holloway who sent a pass between the hash marks for Elkins who fired a one-timer. Holloway was able to get in front of Gill to redirect the shot into the back of the net and extend the Monarchs lead to 4-0.
Worcester found their way onto the scoreboard at 5:27 of the third period with defenseman Matt Irwin’s third tally of the season. With Muzzin in the penalty box for holding, the Sharks went to work in Manchester’s zone. Right wing Jonathan Cheechoo found Irwin who ripped a shot top-shelf on Zatkoff from out front for the Sharks first goal of the game. Left wing T.J. Trevelyan also assisted on the goal.
Loktionov tallied his third goal of the season, unassisted at 15:08 of the third period. Loktionov stole the puck from defenseman Sean Sullivan and broke in on Gill. The second year center fired a shot that hit the back of the net to give the Monarchs a 5-1 lead.
Cheechoo netted his seventh goal of the season at 16:12 of the final frame. Sullivan passed the puck up to Cheechoo who skated it in on Zatkoff. As he reached the slot, Cheechoo flipped a backhand shot past the goaltender and into the net to bring the final score to 5-2.
Zatkoff (9-6-1) earned his ninth win of the season stopping 31-of-33 shots on net. Stalock (9-8-1) took his eighth loss of the season with 19 saves on 22 shots before he was replaced by Gill (0-0-0) in the third period who stopped 8-of-10 shots.
Manchester went 2-for-6 on the power play. Worcester was 2-for-4 with the man advantage.
Notables: The Monarchs have won four in a row which ties for the team’s longest win streak this season…Manchester has also won eight of their last nine games…With a goal and two assists in today’s game, center Andrei Loktionov has eight points (1-7=8) in his last three games and has moved into first place on the Monarchs team with 17 points (3-14=17) this season…In his final game of his two week conditioning assignment, center Brayden Schenn (3-4=7) collected an assist and a plus-2 rating today…Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff picked up his first assist of the season.
The Monarchs return to the ice on Friday, December 3 with a 7:00 p.m. match-up with the Norfolk Admirals at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Catch all of the play-by-play action of Monarchs hockey with Ken Cail on the Monarchs Radio Network WGAM 900/1250 AM and at www.manchestermonarchs.com.