WORCESTER, MA – The last five match-ups between the Manchester Monarchs and the Worcester Sharks have been decided by one goal and the Monarchs were on the short end of the one goal separation in a 2-1 loss at the DCU Center on Friday night.
Manchester (14-13-2-2) is in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with 32 points. Worcester (15-11-1-2) is in third place in the Division with 33 points.
“It was a decent effort tonight but not good enough for a win,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “We were slow to react on a play from behind the net with not much time left in the game that ultimately decided things. A clever turn back by a Worcester player caught our low coverage leaning the wrong way and our goaltender over committed to a wrap around. Peter Mannino was strong in net throughout most of the game. A couple defensive lapses, one early and one late were killers in the end. We worked hard and leave the building pointless. Every point matters so we need to regroup and focus on the Bridgeport game.”
The Sharks broke a tie game with a goal by center Jon Matsumoto at 16:05 of the third period to bring the score to 2-1. Center James Sheppard attempted a centering pass from the end boards for Matsumoto but the puck ricocheted off sticks at the right doorstep and went behind the Monarchs cage. Matsumoto grabbed the puck and faked as if he was coming around on the left side of the net. He whipped back to come out at the right doorstep and caught Monarchs goaltender Peter Mannino by surprise. Matsumoto slipped the puck over the goal line for his seventh tally of the season. Right wing Brodie Reid also tallied an assist on the eventual game-winning goal.
Worcester opened the scoring in the game with a goal by Sheppard at 12:06 of the first period. Matsumoto took the puck off the right wing boards in the Worcester zone and played it to Sheppard who was skating past him. Sheppard took the puck with speed down the left wing boards before splitting the Monarchs defense and breaking in on the net. Sheppard attempted to deke to his backhand but got his stick tied up with a Monarchs defenseman and spun around to free it up. Once free, Sheppard was able to flip a forehand shot over the shoulder of Mannino on the stick side for his eighth goal of the season.
Defenseman Jake Muzzin tied the game at 1-1 with a goal at 16:21 of the second period. Left wing Tanner Pearson won a puck battle along the end boards and found Muzzin in the left wing face-off circle where he launched a slap shot just under the cross bar for the goal. Center Linden Vey also tallied an assist on Muzzin’s second goal of the season.
Mannino (7-3-0) took his third loss of the season stopping 32-of-34 shots. Sharks netminder Harri Sateri (5-6-1) earned his fifth victory of the season making 22 saves on 23 shots.
Manchester went 0-for-1 on the power play. Worcester was 0-for-3 with the man advantage.
Notables: The Monarchs are 1-9-1-0 on Fridays this season…The Monarchs and Worcester Sharks have split the first two-of-three match-ups in a six day span…The Monarchs host the Sharks in the final game of the stretch on Monday, December 31…Defenseman David Kolomatis returned to the Monarchs line-up after missing 23 games due to injury…Kolomatis’ last game played was November 2 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins…Monarchs goaltender Peter Mannino had a three-game winning streak snapped.
The Monarchs will travel to Connecticut to take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Webster Bank Arena at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 29. Catch all the play-by-play action of Monarchs hockey with Ken Cail on the Monarchs Radio Network WGIR 610 AM, WGIR.com and at www.manchestermonarchs.com, presented by Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.