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First Period Proves To Be Slippery Slope

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Monarchs comeback fell short as they were edged by the St. John’s IceCaps, 3-2, at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday night.

Manchester (24-20-0-2) is in second place in the Atlantic Division with 50 points.  St. John’s (26-11-5-1) is in first place in the Atlantic Division with 58 points.
“We had a huge effort and we faced a goalie that was spectacular,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris.  “We had many, many chances to score goals but he (David Aebischer) came up huge.  There were also some opportunities that we had point blank and we missed the net.  You have to credit him with a lot of huge saves.  I liked our energy in the second and third.  The mistakes in the first period and the lack of focus and execution sealed our fate.”
The IceCaps put the game away after extending their lead to 3-0 at 12:46 of the first period.  Defenseman Brett Festerling retrieved a loose puck in the neutral zone and carried it to the left wing face-off circle in the Monarchs zone.  Festerling fired a centering pass to right wing Kevin Clark who was positioned on the right goal post.  Clark’s initial attempt was stopped by netminder Martin Jones but left wing Jason Gregoire crashed the net and poked in the loose puck in front of the net for his fourth tally of the season.
The IceCaps opened up the scoring at 5:19 of the opening period off the stick of left wing Kenndal McArdle. After winning a battle in their defensive zone, St. John’s center Patrice Cormier passed the puck to right wing Spencer Machacek who carried it into up the left wing boards and into the attacking zone.  Machacek moved toward the bottom of the left wing face-off circle and fired a centering pass to McArdle who was skating through the center of the zone.  McArdle beat Jones with a top shelf shot for his fifth goal of the season.
St. John’s pushed their lead to 2-0 at 9:43 of the first frame when Clark wristed a shot from the right point for his seventh tally of the season. Defenseman Jason DeSantis recovered the puck in his own end and quickly moved it to center Ben Maxwell catching speed through the neutral zone.  Maxwell entered the Monarchs zone down the right wing before dropping a pass for Clark at the top of the right face-off circle.  Clark fired a wrist shot that beat Jones high on the glove side.
Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff replaced Jones after the IceCaps third goal of the first period.
Manchester was able to get on the scoreboard with a redirected shot from center Marc-Andre Cliche.  Defenseman Patrick Mullen grabbed a loose puck along the left boards in the St. John’s zone and found fellow defenseman Thomas Hickey at the right point. Hickey blasted a slap shot on net, which was deflected off of Cliche’s stick who was stationed in front of the net, screening goaltender David Aebischer.  Cliche’s team-leading 14th tally of the season came at 8:41 of the middle stanza.
The Monarchs were able to bring the game within one goal early in the third period.  Manchester controlled the puck in the St. John’s zone when defenseman Jake Muzzin fired a slap shot on net from the left point.  The puck rebounded off Aebischer and deflected to right wing Brandon Kozun on the left doorstep.  Kozun immediately moved the puck to left wing Dwight King positioned at the far post for the one-timer into the open net at 5:29 of the third period to bring the game to 3-2.
Jones (12-12-1) took his 12th loss of the season stopping 8-of-11 shots.  Zatkoff (12-8-1) stopped all 28 shots he faced in relief of Jones.  Aebischer (13-5-1) earned his 13th win of the season making 35 saves on 37 shots.
Manchester went 0-for-1 on the power play.  St. John’s did not have a power play in the game.
Notables: The Monarchs ended their three-game winning streak…Manchester is 0-5-0-0 against the IceCaps this season…The Monarchs are 16-5-0-02 in games that have been decided by one goal this season…Center Marc-Andre Cliche is on a four-game point streak (3-4=7)…Monarchs left wing Dwight King has two goals and an assist in his last three games.
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