Manchester (34-19-2-5, 75 points) holds on to first place in the Atlantic Division with 75 points. Bridgeport (21-29-3-4, 49 points) remains in last place in the Atlantic Division with 49 points.
“The consensus among our staff is that our team wanted this game to be easy,” explained Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris following the loss. “In the end, Bridgeport played harder, made plays, and executed.”
“Today’s lineup was the most talented lineup we fielded this season, but there needs to be an understanding that winning isn’t about the prettiest pass and risky decisions,” said Morris. “Instead, it’s about grit, determination, and sacrifice for the sake of our hockey team. This team plays best when we execute with structure and avoid shortcuts.”
“We rallied in the third and then we broke down. Mentally and physically, we looked a step slow. Let’s hope we learn from this one. We are capable of much more than this showing. From this point, we have to be willing to pay the price. Nothing is going to be handed to us. You've got to earn it,” concluded Morris.
Left wing Brandon Svendsen scored his seventh goal of the season at 10:40 of the third period, giving the Sound Tigers a 3-2 lead. Center Rob Hisey won the offensive zone face-off over to center Rhett Rakhshani, who then won the ensuing puck battle along the right side boards. Rakhshani skated from the right side half wall over to the right wing faceoff circle and sent a feed across the goal crease to Svendsen, who stopped the puck with his skate. Svendsen then kicked the puck to the blade of his stick, shifting Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff
out of position, and allowing a wide-open right side of the net for Svendsen to put Bridgeport up by a 3-2 margin just after the halfway mark of the third stanza.
Ullstrom scored his 10th goal of the season as the Sound Tigers scored on the power play at 11:41 of the second period. Entrenched in the offensive zone following left wing Richard Clune
’s interference penalty, defenseman Brett Motherwell cycled the puck over to left wing Justin DiBenedetto, positioned along the left wing boards. DiBenedetto dumped the puck behind the net to Ullstrom, who circled around the Monarchs cage and skated into the center of the right faceoff circle. Ullstrom’s ensuing wrist shot rang off of the crossbar and down into the goal behind Zatkoff for the first goal of the game.
Ullstrom scored his second goal of the game at 18:57 of the second period. In the neutral zone, the Sound Tigers won a face-off and defenseman Mark Wotton dumped the puck into the offensive zone. DiBenedetto, along the left side boards, wrapped the puck around the back of the goal to Ullstrom, positioned along the right wing boards. Skating from the top of the right faceoff circle around two Monarchs defenders, Ullstrom flipped the puck over the leg of Zatkoff at the top of the crease for his 11th goal of the season.
Left wing Dwight King
scored his 20th goal of the season at 2:54 of the third period. Skating into the zone on a 3-on-2 breakout, King entered the zone up the left wing and passed the puck to center Justin Azevedo
, skating up the slot. Azevedo wristed the puck over to right wing Brandon Kozun
, who skated up the right side. Kozun one-touched the pass back over to Azevedo, who flicked the puck over to King, who crashed the left post and tapped the puck home for the Monarchs first goal of the game.
Kozun scored his 16th goal of the season at 8:46 of the third period, tying the game at two near the midpoint of the third period. Center Jordan Nolan
initiated the play within the Monarchs defensive zone, sending a feed over to defenseman Thomas Hickey
. A nifty outlet pass connected with Kozun, who entered the zone with the puck up the left side boards. Cutting immediately across the slot from left to right, Kozun fired a shot top shelf on Bridgeport goaltender Mikko Koskinen, tying the game at two near the midpoint of the third period.
Ullstrom recorded an empty net goal at 18:52 of the third period, securing the hat trick as well as the victory for the Sound Tigers. Left wing Eric Castonguay backhanded a puck out of the Bridgeport zone where it was collected by DiBenedetto. Entering the offensive zone on a 2-on-1 breakout, DiBenedetto softly passed the puck from right to left over to Ullstrom, who tapped it home for his third goal of the night and his 12th of the season.
Zatkoff (13-12-1) collected his 12th loss of the season, stopping 13-of-16 shots on goal. Koskinen (6-15-1) earned his sixth victory of the season, halting 20-of-22 shots on net.
Manchester was 1-for-5 on the power play. Bridgeport was 1-for-1 with the man advantage.Notables:
Left wing Dwight King
’s third period goal extends his goal-scoring streak to five games, as he has recorded six goals and an assist over that span for seven points (6-1=7)…King leads the Monarchs in points against Bridgeport this season with eight (5-3=8)…Right wing Brandon Kozun
has eight points (5-3=8) over his last six games, dating back to February 11 against Portland…Center Justin Azevedo
now has five assists (0-5=5) over his last three games...Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff
had not lost in regulation dating back to January 8 against Portland…The Monarchs allowed only 17 shots on goal, a season-low for a Manchester opponent…The Monarchs and Sound Tigers combined for only nine shots in the first period, tying season-low records previously set against Hershey on October 31 and against Springfield on November 24.