MANCHESTER, NH – Right wing Tyler Toffoli scored a natural hat trick to lead the Manchester Monarchs past the Portland Pirates, 5-1, at Cumberland County Civic Center in a VIP Cup match-up on Tuesday night.
Manchester (8-6-0-1) leads the Atlantic Division with 17 points. Portland (6-7-1-1) is fourth in the Division with 14 points.
“Our penalty kill and goaltending was top-shelf tonight,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “The entire third period was special teams and the guys killing for us did a great job. The early goals by Tyler Toffoli got things on the right track for us and I was very pleased with our body of work. We had lots of chances because of the work we did pursuing the puck. When we skate like we did tonight hockey is fun and exciting to watch and fun to play. We ought to bottle that effort.”
Manchester took a 2-0 lead at 16:14 of the opening frame when Toffoli scored his second of the game. Center Linden Vey poked the puck free from a Pirates defender behind Portland’s net. Left wing Tanner Pearson jumped on the loose puck and flipped a centering pass on his backhand to Toffoli in the slot. Toffoli wristed a rocket high on the stick side of Pirates netminder Chad Johnson for his sixth goal of the season and the eventual game-winning goal.
The Monarchs opened the scoring at 10:33 of the first period with a goal by Toffoli. Vey took the puck off the left wing half wall and skated to the top of the left wing face-off circle before feeding Toffoli at the top of the right wing face-off circle. Toffoli wristed a shot on Johnson high on the stick side for his fifth goal of the season.
Toffoli registered a natural hat trick at 11:12 of the second period to give the Monarchs a 3-0 lead. After the Monarchs caused a turnover in between the top of the face-off circles in the Pirates zone, Vey skated the puck in on Johnson before wristing a shot from the slot. Vey’s rebound deflected off the pads of Johnson and went into the air where Toffoli batted the puck into the net for his seventh of the season.
Right wing Stefan Legein scored a goal to give the Monarchs a 4-0 lead at 10:52 of the final frame. Center Jordan Weal freed the puck off the right wing half wall where right wing Brian O’Neill took the puck in the right wing face-off circle. O’Neill played it back to Legein at the top of the right wing face-off circle. Legein fired a slap shot that found the back of the net for his first goal of the season.
The Monarchs took a 5-0 lead on the power play off the stick of defenseman Slava Voynov at 17:42 of the third period. Defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk fed Voynov at the top of the left wing face-off circle. Voynov launched a slap shot that beat Johnson high on the stick side for his fourth goal of the season.
Portland’s center Evan Brophey spoiled Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones’ shutout bid with a goal at 19:27 of the third period. Right wing Phil Lane poked the puck to right wing Scott Arnold at the top of the right wing face-off circle. Arnold had the puck swiped off his stick toward the top of the left wing face-off circle where Brophey stepped into a slap shot for his second goal of the season.
Jones (7-5-1) earned his seventh victory of the season stopping 42-of-43 shots. Johnson (5-5-0) took his fifth loss of the season making 20 saves on 25 shots.
Manchester went 1-for-3 on the power play. Portland was 0-for-10 with the man advantage.
Notables: The Monarchs snapped their three-game losing streak (0-3-0-0)…Right wing Tyler Toffoli registered the 23rd hat trick in Monarchs history…Monarchs Right wing Linden Vey registered a career-high four assists in the game…Center Jordan Weal recorded his first assist and point of the season on right wing Stefan Legein’s third period goal.
The Monarchs return home to the Verizon Wireless Arena to take on the Worcester Sharks at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, November 23. Catch all of the play-by-play action of Monarchs hockey with Ken Cail on the Monarchs Radio Network online at WGIRAM.com and at ManchesterMonarchs.com, presented by Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.