BRIDGEPORT, CT – The Manchester Monarchs lost their second consecutive road game as right wing Sean Backman led the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 4-1, at the Webster Bank Arena on Saturday night.
Manchester (14-14-2-2) is in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with 32 points. Bridgeport (16-12-1-2) is in second place in the Northeast Division with 35 points.
“Better execution and a greater sense of urgency at defining moments of the game continues to be our message to the team,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “We need to be more determined to channel our efforts in a positive directions individually and collectively.”
The Sound Tigers took a 2-1 lead with Backman’s second goal of the game at 17:30 of the second period. Forward Chad Costello carried the puck behind the Monarchs net and sent a pass out in front that deflected off the stick of left wing Mike Halmo positioned at the right post. The puck trickled through the slot toward the left face-off circle. Backman swooped in and banged in the loose puck for his third goal of the season.
The Sound Tigers opened the scoring at 1:39 of the first period with a goal by Backman. Backman carried the puck down the left wing and to the bottom of the left wing face-off circle. The right wing flipped a tough angle backhand shot up and over Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones for his second goal of the season. Halmo picked up an assist on the first goal of the game.
Manchester tied the game at 1-1 with a goal by right wing Tyler Toffoli at 8:46 of the first period. Center Linden Vey gained the Sound Tigers zone along the right wing boards. Vey skated to the right wing half wall before centering a pass to Toffoli between the hash marks. Toffoli one-timed the pass and snuck the shot by Bridgeport netminder Anders Nilsson low on the glove side for his 14th goal of the season.
Center Casey Cizikas gave the Sound Tigers a 3-1 lead at 18:44 of the middle period. Left wing Brandon DeFazio caused a turnover as the Monarchs started a breakout. DeFazio gained possession of the puck at the right point of the Monarchs zone before finding Cizikas entering the zone. Cizikas skated between the face-off circles on a partial breakaway before fading to the left post and wristing a shot that squeaked through Jones for the goal.
The Sound Tigers extended their lead to 4-1 with a power play goal by left wing Nino Niederreiter at 9:42 of the third period. Center Johan Sundtsrom sent a pass to defenseman Ty Wishart at the right point. Wishart launched an indirect slap shot that Niederreiter redirected from the hash marks. Niederreiter’s redirection found the back of the net for his 16th goal of the season.
Jones (7-13-2) took his 13th loss of the season stopping 25-of-29 shots. Nilsson (7-7-0) earned his seventh victory of the season making 31 saves on 32 shots.
Manchester went 0-for-1 on the power play. Bridgeport was 1-for-4 with the man advantage.
Notables: The Monarchs are 9-2-0-0 when they play on a Saturday this season…The Monarchs are 0-3-0-0 against the Sound Tigers this season…Right wing Tyler Toffoli scored his team-leading 14th goal of the season.
The Monarchs will head home to host the Worcester Sharks in their annual New Year’s Eve Celebration at the Verizon Wireless Arena at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, December 31. Catch all the play-by-play action of Monarchs hockey with Ken Cail on the Monarchs Radio Network WGIR.com and at www.manchestermonarchs.com, presented by Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.