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Monarchs Clinch Playoff Berth with Win

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
First pro win for JF Berube

MANCHESTER, N.H. – With a 4-1 victory over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Manchester Monarchs clinched a playoff berth in the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs on Friday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

Manchester (41-26-3-6) remains in third place in the Atlantic Division with 91 points. Bridgeport (36-30-4-6) is tied for fourth place in the Atlantic Division with 82 points.

“It is pretty rewarding to know how far this group has come since the start of the season,” explained Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “We played a complete game. I thought that everyone executed well. It was apparent our guys were buying into the systems. We beat a good team tonight.”

Center Corey Elkins scored his team-leading 20th goal of the season with exactly 3:00 minutes remaining in the second period. Led into the zone by a pass from defenseman Alec Martinez, right wing Trevor Lewis skated along the right wing boards. Sensing defensive pressure, Lewis dropped a pass back to Elkins. Slithering around two Bridgeport defenders, Elkins chopped a shot on goal with the heel of his stick, roofing the puck past goaltender Scott Munroe to give the Monarchs a one-goal lead heading into the third period.

Defenseman Brendan Witt scored the lone goal of the game for Bridgeport at 7:06 of the first period. Following a turnover by the Monarchs in the offensive zone, right wing Rhett Rakhshani skated the puck up the boards to the right wing corner. He sent the puck past the top of the crease and connected with a streaking Witt, who roofed the puck past Monarchs netminder J.F. Berube. The goal was Witt’s second marker of the season.

Monarchs center Justin Azevedo scored his 14th goal of the season to even the score at 1-1 at 7:31 of the first period. Entrenched in the offensive zone, defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov initiated the scoring play by sending the puck behind him to his defensive partner Drew Bagnall. The Monarchs captain fired a slap shot on net that could not penetrate heavy crease traffic. Center Gabe Gauthier won the ensuing puck battle and passed the puck to the right side corner where Azevedo was positioned. Two quick dekes by the center as he approached the goal slid Munroe out of position and a quick wrist shot beat the netminder on his glove side.

Center Oscar Moller scored his 13th goal of the season at 3:57 of the third period. Defenseman Joe Piskula carried the puck into the zone and after a brief pause, fired a shot on goal that was denied by Munroe. Azevedo collected the rebound and also fired a shot on goal that was kicked aside by Munroe. A streaking Moller came swooping in, collected the rebound and fired the puck five-hole on Munroe to put the Monarchs up 3-1.

Left wing Bud Holloway scored his 19th goal of the season at 17:42 of the third period to put the Monarchs up 4-1. After collecting a pass in the defensive zone from defenseman Jacob Muzzin, Holloway crossed center ice with the puck and skated directly toward the Bridgeport net. Evading a Sound Tigers defender, Holloway slid the puck through Munroe’s legs, giving the Monarchs an insurance goal late in the third period.

Immediately following Holloway’s goal, the power went out at the Verizon Wireless Arena with 1:21 left of the third period. Following a brief delay, the Monarchs and Sound Tigers agreed to resume play, with the emergency lighting in the arena illuminating the ice. Play resumed without any further incident.

Marking the second game in a row where a Monarchs netminder has made his professional debut, Berube (1-0-0) stopped 23-of-24 shots on goal and earned his first professional win. Munroe (18-16-3) drew the loss, halting 26-of-30 shots on net.

Both Manchester and Bridgeport were 0-for-1 on the power play.

NOTABLES: Manchester clinched a berth in the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs and will extend their play into the post-season for the eighth time in franchise history…Rookie goaltender J.F. Berube collected his first pro win in his debut stopping 23 shots…Rookie defenseman Jacob Muzzin recorded his first point, an assist, in his pro debut…Center Justin Azevedo has six points (2-4=6) in his last six games…Defenseman Alec Martinez is currently on a five-game point streak with eight points (1-7=8)…Martinez has 13 points (2-11=13) in his last nine games….Right wing Kevin Westgarth is listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury he suffered in the first period of Friday’s game when he dropped the gloves with a Bridgeport player.
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