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Loktionov Scores Hat Trick in Pro Debut

by Kim Mueller / Los Angeles Kings
Performances like tonight might get Andrei Loktionov in a Kings uniform, sooner rather than later.
ALBANY, NY – Number 18, rookie center Andrei Loktionov made history as he scored a hat trick and picked up an assist in his professional debut as the Manchester Monarchs extinguished the Albany River Rats, 6-3, in their 2009-10 season debut in front of 6,507 fans at the Times Union Center on Saturday night.

Manchester (1-0-0-0) is tied for first place in the Atlantic Division with two points. Albany (0-1-0-0) is tied for second place in the East Division with zero points.

“We had a great first period and a great third period,” explained Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris on the bus following the game. “The second period was penalty filled and we experienced a lull where we had a lot of turnovers. We’ll take a lot of solace out of the fact we were able to rebound and put in a real strong effort in the third (period).

“The line of (Andrei) Loktionov, (Scott) Parse and (Oscar) Moller was a shining star and (Joe) Piskula notched his first goal which ended up to be the winner. (Jonathan) Bernier stood tall in net, especially in the second period that was penalty filled.”

Monarchs defenseman Joe Piskula scored his first professional goal at 6:12 of the final frame to give the Monarchs back their lead in the game. Right wing Kevin Westgarth riffled the puck on net from the face-off circle and goaltender Justin Peters made the save. Rookie center Corey Elkins was there to pick up the loose puck but Peters kept it from crossing the line. With the puck loose in the crease, Piskula buried the rebound for the go-ahead goal that gave Manchester a 4-3 lead.

Right wing Brandon Segal put up the first tally of the Monarchs 2009-10 season with a one-timer from the top of the crease at 5:18 of the first period. Loktionov collected the puck in the right corner of the River Rats’ zone and spotted Segal in the slot. Armed and ready to fire, Segal dropped down to his right knee and slapped the puck into the top left corner of the net behind Peters. The first goal of the game was Segal’s first tally in a Monarchs’ uniform and his first of the season.

Loktionov doubled the Monarchs lead with his first professional goal at 10:46 of the opening period. Defenseman Drew Bagnall sent the puck deep into Albany’s zone. Right wing Scott Parse collected the biscuit and carried it around the back of the basket from left to right. He attempted to stuff it in at the right post but instead the puck slid through the crease for a wide open Loktionov to tap in for a 2-0 advantage.

Westgarth squared off with River Rats defenseman Zack Fitzgerald at 10:49 of the first period. Fitzgerald got a couple of swings in but Westgarth dominated the scuffle and finished off the defenseman by practically ripping off the No. 4 on the back of the Albany player’s jersey.

Left wing Drayson Bowman put the River Rats on the board with an unassisted tally at 16:43 of the opening stanza. As the Monarchs tried to clear the puck from their zone, Bowman kept it in along the left wing boards. At the left point, the winger fired a slap shot through traffic that evaded netminder Jonathan Bernier and found the back of the net for a 2-1 game.

Loktionov did it again as he picked up his second goal of the game at 17:49 of the first period to bring the score to 3-1 in the Monarchs favor. Center Oscar Moller skated into the River Rats zone with Loktionov to his left and slightly in front of him. At the hash marks, Moller nudged the puck up to his wingman while eluding Albany’s defender. Loktionov redirected the pass through the crease and over Peters’ right pad for the tally.

With less than one minute remaining in the opening frame, Monarchs defenseman Drew Bagnall and Albany’s center Mike Angelidis dropped the gloves. Their one-on-one battle ended in a draw.

River Rats defenseman Brett Carson brought his team back to within one goal with .04 seconds left in the second period. Center Zach Boychuk halted the Monarchs clearing attempt as he fell to his stomach on the ice and swept the puck to Carson at the center point. The defenseman’s slap shot traveled through bodies and found the top right corner of the net for Carson’s first goal of the season.

Albany’s defenseman Chris Terry capitalized on Segal’s cross checking penalty with his first goal of the season at 1:52 of the third period to tie the game at 3-3. Skating on the power play, Terry picked up a pass from right wing Jerome Samson and positioned himself in the bottom of the right face-off circle. Attempting to pass the puck through the slot, Terry ended up sending the puck off a Monarchs defender’s stick and into the net.

For the first time in Monarchs history, a rookie scored a hat trick in his professional debut as Loktionov buried his third tally of the game at 9:58 of the third period. Parse fed the puck to rookie defenseman Patrick Mullen who found Loktionov in the right face-off circle. 1-2-3, Loktionov became the 18th player in Monarchs history to score a hat trick and the 25th player in team history to score four points (three goals, one assist) in a game.

“He’s a special player and we’re going to enjoy him while we’ve got him,” said Morris on Loktionov. “He makes those around him better. He’s got the ability to be a big time player with his passing, skating and shooting.”

Center Gabe Gauthier finished off the River Rats with his first goal of the season at 13:30 of the final stanza. Gauthier carried the puck around the back of the net and banged it past Peters at the right post for a 6-3 final. Westgarth and Bagnall picked up assists on the final goal of the game.

Bernier (1-0-0) picked up his first win of the season with 35 saves on 38 shots. Peters (0-1-0) took the loss with 25 saves.

Manchester went 0-for-1 on the power play. Albany was 1-for-6 with the man advantage.

Notables: Monarchs won their season opener for the first time since the 2006-07 season…Loktionov’s hat trick is the 18th in team history; he’s the 25th player to score four points (three goals, one assist) in a game; and he’s the first player to score a hat trick in his pro debut in a Monarchs uniform…Elkins (one assist), Loktionov (three goals, one assist) and Mullen (one assist) scored at least on point in the pro debut tonight…Bernier stopped 35 shots for his first win of the season…Albany outshot Manchester 38-31.
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