MANCHESTER, NH –
Center Justin Azevedo
led the Manchester Monarchs with five points and a franchise record four goals in a 5-2 victory over the Portland Pirates at the Cumberland County Civic Arena on Saturday night.
Manchester (31-28-0-3) ranks in second place in the Atlantic Division with 65 points. Portland (27-27-3-3) sits in fifth place in the Atlantic Division with 60 points.
“It was a tremendous effort all the way up and down the line-up,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “Justin Azevedo
led the way; he had a hot stick. It was good to see him enjoying the game. Martin Jones
was solid. He looks as comfortable as we’ve seen him in some time. This is more of the type of hockey we want to see each time out. When we get a complete effort like we saw tonight, it is gratifying. Everyone took turns carrying the workload.”
Azevedo scored his second of four goals to give the Monarchs a 3-1 lead at 18:57 of the first period. Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones
played the puck up to right wing Stefan Legein who was transitioning up the left wing. Legein gained the Pirates zone and carried the puck deep into the left wing corner before sending a centering pass to Azevedo in front of the net. Azevedo tipped the puck past Pirates goaltender Justin Pogge for his 17th goal of the season.
The Pirates opened the scoring with right wing Brett Hextall’s sixth goal of the season at 4:55 of the first period. Center Ethan Werek passed the puck to left wing Evan Bloodoff who carried the puck up the left wing boards and into the Monarchs zone. Bloodoff fired a wrist shot from the left wing half wall on Jones producing a rebound on the right doorstep. Hextall jammed the puck into the back of the net for the Pirates early lead.
The Monarchs tied the game at 1-1 off the stick of Legein at 7:28 of the first period. Legein started the play by collecting the puck behind the Pirates cage and sending a pass to Azevedo along the left wing half wall. Legein went to the front of the net while Azevedo found defenseman David Kolomatis
back at the left point. Kolomatis fired a slap shot that was redirected by Legein and into the back of the net for his 11th goal of the season.
The Monarchs took a 2-1 lead with Azevedo’s first of four goals on the night at 10:52 of the opening frame. Defenseman Andrew Campbell
played the puck over to defenseman Jake Muzzin
skating up the ice on the left wing. As Muzzin passed the puck over to Azevedo who split the Pirates defense and broke in on Pogge. Azevedo wristed a snap shot into the top right corner of the net for his 16th tally of the season.
The Monarchs opened up a three-goal lead 33 seconds into the third period with a power play tally by Azevedo to complete his first career natural hat trick. Kolomatis cycled the puck from the left point to Azevedo at the left wing half wall. Azevedo sent a pass into the left corner of the Pirates zone for right wing Trent Hunter. Azevedo headed to the front of the net and collected a return pass from Hunter. The center found the back of the net from point-blank range for his third goal of the game and his 18th tally of the season.
Azevedo set a franchise record with his fourth goal in a game at 13:21 in the third period to give the Monarchs a 5-1 lead. Defenseman Patrick Mullen
fed Azevedo in the neutral zone along the right wing boards. Azevedo skated down to the right half wall before firing a slap shot that beat Pogge high on the glove side for his 19th tally of the season.
The Pirates finished the scoring in the game at 16:46 of the final period off with Bloodoff’s fifth goal of the season. Defenseman Mark Louis fired a shot from the top of the right wing face-off circle producing a rebound in front of Jones. Werek swiped at the puck but it deflected out of the slot and into the left face-off circle. Bloodoff picked up the loose puck and wristed in a shot to bring the score to 5-1.
Jones (14-15-2) earned his 14th victory stopping 40-of-42 shots. Pogge (13-13-3) took his 13th loss of the season stopping 12 saves on 17 shots.
Manchester went 1-for-1 on the power play. Portland was 0-for-2 with the man advantage. Notables:
The Monarchs are a perfect 14-for-14 on the penalty kill in their last four games…Center Justin Azevedo
has six goals in this last three games…Azevedo set a franchise record with four goals in the game…Azevedo’s natural hat trick was the first hat trick of his career…Azevedo is the third player in franchise history to score five points (4-1=5) in one game…Defenseman Jake Muzzin
is currently on a four-game point streak (1-4=4)…Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones
picked up his second assist of the season.