MANCHESTER, NH - In his professional debut, defenseman Thomas Hickey
assisted on both regulation goals as the Manchester Monarchs edged the Lowell Devils, 3-2, in a shootout in front of 3,951 at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday night.
Manchester (35-31-0-8, 78 points) is fifth place in the Atlantic Division. Lowell (33-32-2-7, 75 points) is in sixth place in the Atlantic Division.
"It was a character win for us," said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. "It seems like an eternity for us since our last win even though it wasn't too long ago. We had some key goals at key times."
Left wing Matt Moulson, center Marty Murray and center Justin Azevedo slipped the puck past Devils netminder Jeff Frazee in the shootout. The only Monarchs player that Frazee denied was left wing Vladimir Dravecky. Monarchs' goaltender Jonathan Bernier stopped 3-of-4 shooters in the shootout, defenseman Tyler Eckford, left wing Alexander Vasyunov and right wing Stephen Gionta. Veteran center Pascal Rheaume was the only Devils player to score on Bernier in the shootout.
Fans in the Verizon Wireless Arena expected to head into the first intermission with a 0-0 tie but the Monarchs scored the first tally of the game with one second left on the clock. Digging deep in the Devils zone on their second power play of the night, right wing Trevor Lewis tossed the puck from the left corner toward the net. Moulson deflected the shot past Frazee for his team leading 17th goal of the season. Hickey, in his pro debut, assisted on the tally at 19:59 of the opening period.
Midway through the second period, the Devils evened the contest at 1-1. Right wing Vladimir Zharkov fed the puck to defenseman Matthew Corrente who carried it into the right face-off circle. At the dot, Corrente snapped a wrist shot that soared under Bernier's right arm and into the net for his sixth of the season. Vasyunov picked up an assist on the tying goal.
Left wing Ryan Murphy was credited with tipping the puck past Bernier on a shot from Eckford from the left circle. Monarchs defenseman Tom Preissing was checking Murphy in the path of Eckford's shot when the puck bounced off of the winger's upper body and redirected into the net to give the Devils a 2-1 lead at 3:07 of the third period. Center Brad Mills assisted on Murphy's ninth tally of the season.
Hickey picked up his second assist of the night and of his pro career when he set up right wing Kevin Westgarth at 8:47 of the final frame to bring the score to a 2-2 tie. Skating into the Devils zone, Hickey beat the Devils' defenseman to the puck in the right corner and slid a pass into the right face-off circle. Westgarth came streaking into the circle and ripped a one-timer into the top right corner of the net for his third goal of the season. Left wing Richard Clune assisted on the goal by sending the puck into the right corner.
Shortly after Frazee denied Monarchs defenseman Drew Bagnall of his first goal of the season, right wing Matt Halischuk was hooked down by the defender and awarded a penalty shot. Bernier stopped the shot by dropping to his knees and directing the puck to the right corner. The rookie goaltender has faced two penalty shots this season and stopped both of them.
"At this time of the season, we need to put the points in the bank in order to be a playoff contender," said Morris.
Bernier (21-22-4) picked up his 21st win of the season stopping 27-of-29 shots in regulation and 3-of-4 in the shootout. Frazee (26-20-5) picked up loss No. 20 with 28 saves in regulation and one save in the shootout.
Manchester went 1-for-5 on the power play. Lowell was 0-for-4 with the man advantage.