PORTLAND, ME – Forward Brian O’Neill batted the puck out of the air and scored in overtime as the Manchester Monarchs came from behind to defeat the Portland Pirates, 4-3, in a VIP Cup preview at the Portland Ice Arena on Sunday afternoon.
The Monarchs (2-0-0-0) won their second game in the exhibition play in as many games. The Pirates (1-1-0-0) took their first loss in the exhibition season.
“I thought Portland jumped on us in the first period,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “I don’t know if it was a little bit of a sluggish start on our part coming off the bus but we got better as the game went along. I thought periods two and three, we started t play with a little more jump in our step and played with more purpose and got some timely goals with Deslauriers but then they got one on us with under a minute to go. You don’t like to see that happen but hopefully we will learn from it. O’Neill was Johnny on the spot and had a fortuitous bounce and was able to bang her home. That was the difference in the game.”
O’Neill scored the game-winning goal at 3:59 of overtime. O’Neill took possession of the puck after a Pirates turnover behind the Pirates goal and found center Robbie Czarnik entering the offensive zone. Czarnik took the pass from O’Neill and wristed a shot that sailed over the goal and off the glass. The puck bounced off the glass and out in front of the net. O’Neill batted it out of the air and into the net for his first goal of the exhibition season.
The Pirates opened the scoring at 17:02 of the first period when defenseman Mark Louis tallied his first goal of the exhibition season. Pirates right wing Chris Conner gained possession of the puck behind the Monarchs net and fed Louis at the center point for a quick wrist shot. The shot rang off the post and found the back of the net. Louis’ tally was also assisted by left wing Rob Klinkhammer.
The Monarchs tied the game at 1-1 with a goal by defenseman David Kolomatis. Monarchs center Jordan Weal wristed a shot on Pirates netminder Chad Johnson producing a rebound for left wing Tanner Pearson who also got a shot on goal. Pearson’s shot deflected off Johnson and traveled out to Kolomatis at the right point. Kolomatis rifled a slap shot that fought traffic and found the back of the net at 9:32 of the second period.
The Pirates regained a one-goal lead when center Alexandre Bolduc capitalized on the power play. Pirates defenseman David Rundblad settled the puck at the right point and sent a pass to right wing Jordan Szwarz at the bottom of the right wing face-off circle. Szwarz fired a pass across the net to Bolduc who sat on the far doorstep and one-timed the puck for the goal at 15:09 of the second period.
The Monarchs tied the game at 2-2 at the six minute mark of the third period when forward Nikolay Prokhorkin tallied a power play goal. As the Monarchs applied a forecheck behind the Pirates net, right wing Stefan Legein grabbed the puck and found Prokhorkin in the left face-off circle. Prokhorkin quickly wristed a shot high on the stick side of Johnson. Prokhorkin’s tally was the first of the exhibition season and was also assisted by Czarnik.
The Monarchs took their first lead of the game, 3-2, when defenseman Nick Deslauriers picked off a cross-ice pass from Pirates defenseman Brandon Gormley. At the left point, Deslauriers played the puck off the left wing boards, around Rundblad, picked it up and wristed a shot low on the glove side for the goal at 19:07 of the third period.
The Pirates tied the game at 3-3 with just 24 second s remaining in the third period when right wing Chris Brown beat Monarchs goaltender Jean-Francois Berube. Right wing Chris Conner passed the puck from behind the net to Brown in the slot. Brown snuck the puck just inside the right post. Brown’s goal was also assisted by Szwarz.
Notables: Monarchs goaltender Jean-Francois Berube is 2-0-0 in exhibition play this season…Monarchs netminder Peter Mannino stopped 14-of-16 shots through the first two periods in his first exhibition game…The Monarchs scratches were defenseman Andrew Campbell, left wing Richard Clune, center Marc-Andre Cliche, right wing Justin Johnson, goaltender Martin Jones, right wing David Meckler and defenseman Jake Muzzin.
The same two teams play again at the ICENTER in Salem, New Hampshire at 3:00 p.m. on Monday, October 8. Secure your seats for Monarchs Home Opening Weekend, presented by AutoFair, through the Opening Weekend Pack! Get two great seats for either the Opening Night game on Friday, October 19 or Opening Saturday game on October 20 as the Monarchs drop the puck on their 12th season in Manchester. In addition, you will receive four flex vouchers and a limited edition Opening Weekend puck (exclusive to this package). For more information, visit www.manchestermonarchs.com or call the Monarchs Front Office at (603) 626-7825.