BRIDGEPORT, CT - Defenseman Brian Boyle earned an early holiday present by silencing the Bridgeport Sound Tigers with his first hat trick in the Manchester Monarchs 5-1 victory in front of 2, 444 fans at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Saturday night.
Manchester (13-13-3-1) is in fifth place in the Atlantic Division with 30 points. Bridgeport (13-15-1-0) is in sixth place in the East Division with 27 points.
A bad bounce off the end boards placed the puck on the stick of left wing Paul Crosty along the bottom of the right face-off circle. Crosty wristed a shot past Sound Tigers goaltender Mike Morrison on his glove side for his first goal of the season, unassisted at 9:25 of the opening frame for the game-winning goal.
For the second night in a row, Boyle put the Monarchs on the scoreboard early. On the power play, right wing Teddy Purcell corralled the puck along the left wing boards and sent a pass to left wing Matt Moulson along the end boards. Moulson carried the puck around the net and found Boyle at the top of the crease for a one-timer that beat Morrison on the stick side for a 1-0 lead at 5:38 of the first period.
Boyle collected his second tally of the night and 12th goal of the season at the 19-second mark of the middle frame. On the power play, Purcell carried puck into the Bridgeport zone and dropped it off to Boyle at the left point. Boyle carried the puck to the top of the left wing circle before unleashing a wrist shot over Morrison's glove and into the top of the net.
Netminder Joey MacDonald replaced Morrison following Boyle's second goal of the night. Morrison made six saves on nine shots in 20 minutes and 19 seconds of play.
The Sound Tigers got on the board at 1:17 of the third period with defenseman Drew Fata's second goal of the season. Right wing Darryl Bootland handed the puck off to Fata in the neutral zone and the defenseman carried it across the blueline and into the Monarchs zone. Just inside the left point, Fata wound up and blasted a slap shot past Monarchs goaltender Erik Ersberg's glove and into the net for a 3-1 game. Center Ben Walter also earned an assist on Bridgeport's first goal of the game.
Center David Meckler scored his 11th goal of the season by stripping the puck from a Sound Tigers' player along the left wing boards and walking in on MacDonald. Meckler snapped his wrist and flipped the puck over the downed goaltender to bring the score to 4-1.
MacDonald argued Meckler's goal and received a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Boyle and the Monarchs power play team went to work. Defenseman Peter Harrold sent the puck toward the net for Moulson in the slot. Moulson tangled with two Sound Tigers and the puck settled near their feet. Boyle dug the puck out of the crowd and flipped it into the net for his first professional hat trick and his third power play goal of the night.
Ersberg earned the victory for the Monarchs stopping 35 shots. Morrison took the loss with six saves on nine shots before being replaced by MacDonald who stopped 19-of-21 shots.
Manchester went 3-for-4 on the power play. Bridgeport was 0-for-4 with the man advantage.