Springfield, MA – Defenseman Eric Werner collected a goal and two assists as the Manchester Monarchs beat the Springfield Falcons 4-3 in front of 2,161 fans at the MassMutual Center on Sunday evening.
Manchester (42-19-6-1) is on top of the Atlantic Division with 91 points. Springfield (26-42-1-2) is in last place in the Atlantic Division with 55 points.
The Monarchs opened the scoring first with right wing Lauri Tukonen's 11th goal of the season at 1:55 of the first period. Center Marty Murray broke out of the defensive zone and made a pass to Tukonen who was streaking through the neutral zone. Tukonen carried the puck to the top of the left face-off circle in the Falcons zone and threw a wrist shot through a defender. The puck snuck by the glove of Falcons goaltender Jonathan Boutin and into the right side of the net.
Minutes later, the Monarchs increased their lead to 2-0 on a goal from right wing Tim Jackman at the 4:28 mark. Werner let a shot go on net but Boutin made a save with his blocker. The rebound went onto the stick of Jackman in the slot who put the puck into the back of the open net. Left wing Matt Moulson earned an assist on the second goal of the game and Jackman's 15th tally of the season.
Goaltender Kevin Beech replaced Boutin at 4:28 of the first period following Jackman's goal. Boutin made three saves on five shots.
At 8:14 of the first period, the Monarchs made the score 3-0 on Tukonen's second goal of the game. Center Matt Ryan fired a slapshot from the right point that got tipped by Tukonen past Beech. Werner collected his second assist of the night on Tukonen's 12th goal of the season.
With 6:28 remaining in the first period, the Falcons scored their first goal of the game. Right wing Kyle Wanvig had the puck behind the Monarchs net, came around the right side and stuffed the puck inside the right post. Left wings David Spina and Eric Healey earned assists on the goal.
Late in the first period, the Falcons brought the score to within one on a power play goal by right wing Norm Milley at 16:52. A scrum developed in front of Monarchs goaltender Barry Brust and Milley poked the puck out of the scramble and into the left side of the net. Center Dan Corso received an assist on the tally.
With just under five minutes to play in the second frame, the Monarchs increased their lead to 4-2 on a one-timer from Werner at 15:14. Murray carried the puck around the net and sent a pass into the slot from the right corner where Werner then fired the one-timer through the legs of Beech.
The Falcons brought the score within one goal once again at the 10:06 mark of the third period. Left wing Justin Keller carried the puck down the left wing boards and at the top of the left circle, the winger fired a snap shot inside the right post. Defenseman Nick Kuiper and Corso tallied assists on the goal to bring the game to a 4-3 final.
Brust earned the win with 21 saves on 24 shots. Beech took the loss stopping 21-of-23 shots.
Manchester went 0-for-3 on the power play. Springfield was 1-for-4 with the man advantage.