PORTLAND, ME –
Goaltender Martin Jones
backstopped the Manchester Monarchs past the Portland Pirates in a 5-1 victory at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Saturday night.
Manchester (3-1-0-0) is tied for first place in the Atlantic Division with the St. John’s IceCaps (3-1-0-0) with six points each. Portland (1-1-0-0) is tied for fourth place in the Atlantic Division with two points.
“It was another impressive outing for this team,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “There were contributions from everyone and it’s nice to see the guys enjoying some early success. Half the battle is learning to be consistent. The players are playing hard for one another. It’s a fun group to watch. Good work habits and lots of enthusiasm add up to good days at the rink.”
Center Andrei Loktionov
made the score 2-0 as he snap a wrist shot past netminder Curtis McElhinney for his first goal of the season. Center Marc-Andre Cliche
won an offensive zone face-off back to defenseman Andrew Campbell
at the right point. Campbell promptly returned the favor and Cliche redirected the pass to Loktionov along the right wing boards. Loktionov grabbed the puck and created space by skating toward the center of the zone, releasing a laser from just outside of the hash marks. The shot eluded McElhinney as he was screened by one of his defensemen. Loktionov’s tally came at 16:23 of the first period and proved to be the eventual game-winning goal.
The Monarchs opened the scoring when left wing David Meckler
buried a centering pass on the right doorstep of McElhinney. After gaining the offensive zone, defenseman David Kolomatis
flipped the puck to left wing Ray Kaunisto
who drew in three Portland defenders. Kaunisto centered the puck to an open Meckler for the winger’s third tally of the season at 15:37 of the first period.
The Monarchs stretched the lead to three as defenseman Jake Muzzin
launched a slap shot from just inside the blueline at 6:57 of the middle period. Manchester gained control off of a turnover in the Pirates zone and began to cycle the puck. Muzzin gained control of the puck and released a booming slap shot that ricocheted off a Pirates defender and found the back of the net. Defenseman Slava Voynov
and right wing Jordan Nolan
set up Muzzin for his first goal of the season.
The Pirates offense cut the lead to 3-1 at 9:51 of the second stanza. Right wing Brett Hextall broke out of his zone, skated through neutral ice and gained the Monarchs blueline as he sent a cross-ice pass to defenseman Garrett Stafford. With center Colin Long positioning himself on the Monarchs left doorstep, Stafford sent a pass to the net. Long tapped in the pass to beat Jones for his first goal of the season.
In the final frame, the scoring was opened up by Kaunisto who banged home a loose puck at 14:56. While up against the end boards, Meckler threw a centering pass to the front of the net intended for Kaunisto. After it hit a Pirates defenseman’s skate, Kaunisto swiped the puck over the goal line. Muzzin was credited with an assist on the play; his second point of the night.
Center Justin Azevedo
finished off the Pirates by setting up right wing Brandon Kozun
’s first goal of the season. Azevedo received a pass from right wing Stefan Legein and charged up the left wing. Kozun broke down the center of the zone as Azevedo fired a tape-to-tape pass from the left corner. Kozun snapped the puck past McElhinney for the final goal of the contest at 16:31 of the third period.
Jones (3-1-0) earned his third victory and second road-win of the season stopping 32-of-33 shots. McElhinney (1-1-0) picked up his first loss of the season making 28 saves on 33 shots.
The Monarchs went 0-for-4 on the power play. Portland was 0-for-8 with the man-advantage. Notables:
The Monarchs are in the midst of a six-game road trip…Manchester is 2-0-0-0 on the road…Right wing Stefan Legein made his Monarchs debut and recorded an assist…Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones
started his fourth consecutive game…Left wing David Meckler
and center Andrei Loktionov
scored 46 seconds apart in the first period; the fastest two goals of the season…The Monarchs have scored 12 goals in two road games this season.