ALBANY, NY – Three power play goals lifted the Manchester Monarchs over the Albany River Rats, 4-2, at the Pepsi Arena in front of 5,161 fans on Saturday night. Manchester (27-13-1-4, 59 points) is in second place in the Atlantic Division. Albany (15-28-1-2, 33 points) is in seventh place in the Atlantic Division.
Monarchs defenseman Marty Wilford scored his fourth goal of the season at 8:48 of the second period. While on the power play with left wing Ahren Nittel in the penalty box for boarding, left wing Jeff Tambellini won the face-off deep in the River Rats zone. Tambellini fed the puck back to defenseman Brad Fast at the left point. Fast sent the puck to Wilford who fired a slap shot past Albany's goaltender Gregg Naumenko for the 1-0 lead.
The River Rats answered back with two goals, 30-seconds apart, at the end of the middle frame. At 18:59 and on a 5-on-3 power play, defenseman Dan McGillis sent the puck from the point to right wing Aleksander Suglobov at the right face-off circle. Suglobov fed the puck to center Nicklas Bergfors positioned at the end goal line to the right of Monarchs goaltender Adam Hauser. Bergfors picked up the puck and narrowly squeezed it between Hauser and the right post for his sixth goal of the season.
With Monarchs defenseman Doug Nolan in the penalty box for hooking, Nittel teamed up with Suglobov and McGillis for their second power play goal of the game. Nittel collected a pass from Suglobov at center ice and turned on the speed as he went streaking down the left wing. With a teammate driving the net, Nittel opted to shoot the puck and caught Hauser off guard for his fifth of the season and gave the River Rats a 2-1 lead.
Right wing Petr Kanko tied the game at 1:28 of the third period with the only even strength goal of the game. Defenseman Brad Fast fired a shot toward the net and center Greg Hogeboom picked up the rebound. Hogeboom flipped a backhand shot on Naumenko but the Monarchs were denied again. Finally Kanko was able to chip in the rebound from Hogeboom's shot for his tenth of the season.
Batting the puck out of mid-air, center Yanick Lehoux scored his 11th goal of the season, the eventual game-winner, at 6:29 of the final period. Defenseman Mark Ardelan threw the puck at Naumenko while Lehoux positioned himself on the left side of the net. With the rebound from Ardelan's shot bouncing in front of Lehoux, he took two chops at it before it soared into the open net to give the Monarchs the 3-2 lead. Defenseman Denis Grebeshkov also assisted on Manchester's second power play goal of the night.
Hogeboom collected an empty net power play goal at 19:40 of the third period with a pass from center Connor James.
Hauser (15-9-2) earned his 15th victory of the season and first since December 23, 2005. Hauser collected 37 saves in the win. Naumenko (6-4-0) took his fourth loss of the season, first as a member of the River Rats, stopping 24 shots.
Manchester went 3-for-7 on the power play. Albany was 2-for-6 with the man advantage.
Following the 2006 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic, held on January 31 and February 1, the Monarchs will host the Springfield Falcons at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday, February 3. Face-off is scheduled for 7:35 p.m.
For more information on the Manchester Monarchs visit thier official team website at www.monarchshockey.com