MANCHESTER, NH – All-Star goaltender Jason LaBarbera backstopped the Manchester Monarchs to a 2-1 win over the Albany River Rats in front of 9,169 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday night for their seventh win in a row.
Manchester (29-12-6-1) is leading the Atlantic Division with 65 points. Albany (21-21-2-1) is tied for fourth place in the Eastern division with 45 points.
The River Rats started the scoring at 6:28 of the opening frame. With a face-off to the left of LaBarbera, Albany's center Keith Aucoin won the draw over to left wing Cody McLeod. The Albany forward then dropped a pass behind him to left wing Ryan Bayda. With no one around him, Bayda got off a low one-timer that beat LaBarbera on the glove side for his 13th goal of the season.
The Monarchs jumped on the scoreboard to tie the game at 1-1 with a goal from center Marty Murray at 13:04 of the second period. Defensman Bryan Schmidt blocked an attempted clear by Albany. He settled the puck and then fired a slap shot from the left point. Murray was crashing to the net and got a stick on the puck to redirect it over the glove of Albany goaltender Tyler Weiman. Monarchs left wing Noah Clarke also earned an assist on the goal.
The hometown team took the lead when Clarke notched his team leading 18th goal of the year at 6:19 of the final frame. Murray received a pass from right wing Tim Jackman and skated down the right boards on a 2-on-1 breakaway with Clarke. Murray let off a low wrist shot that was saved by Weiman. The rebound caromed out to the top of the crease where Clarke was stationed. The Monarchs point leader put a wrist shot into the top of the net with the Albany goaltender down on the ice.
LaBarbera earned the win in a 39 save effort. Weiman took the loss stopping 26-of-28 shots.
Manchester went 0-for-1 on the power play. Albany was 0-for-2 with the man advantage.
Defensemen T.J. Kemp and Peter Harrold join LaBarbera at the 2007 Rbk Hockey All-Star Classic in Toronto on Sunday, January 28 for the All-Star Skills Competition and on Monday, January 29 for the All-Star Game. The All-Star Game on Monday, January 29 will air live on New England Sports Network (NESN). The All-Star Skills Competition is also scheduled to air on NESN but the date and time have yet to be determined. Both events can be viewed live online for free through the B2 Networks by visiting theahl.com.