HARTFORD, CT – The Manchester Monarchs came from behind, down four goals, to beat the Hartford Wolf Pack, 8-6, in game five of the best-of-seven Atlantic Division Semifinal Series "B" of the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs at the Hartford Civic Center in front of 1,936 fans on Tuesday night. The Monarchs lead the series 3-2 with game six in Manchester on Thursday, April 27. A victory for the Monarchs on Thursday would advance them to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Manchester (43-30-3-4, 93 points) finished the regular season in third place in the Atlantic Division. Hartford (48-24-2-6, 104 points) ended the regular season in second place in the Atlantic Division.
Two goals on the first two shots in the first 46-seconds of the game gave the Wolf Pack the early lead and sent Monarchs goaltender Barry Brust to the bench. Left wing Martin Sonnenberg carried the puck into the Monarchs zone and sent a wrist shot past Brust at the 21-second mark of the first period for his second goal of the playoffs. Right wing Craig Weller assisted on the first-of-fourteen goals on the night.
Center Brandon Dubinsky scored his third goal of the season 46-seconds into game. Left wing Nigel Dawes carried the puck down the left wing and sent a pass onto the stick of Dubinsky skating to the net. The rookie's one-timer beat Brust for the early 2-0 lead. Right wing Colby Genoway also assisted on the goal.
Weller collected a pair of tallies to bring the Wolf Pack's lead to 4-0. On the power play, defenseman Marc Staal fired a shot from the right point that Weller tipped past Monarchs goaltender Adam Hauser. The puck was trickling toward the goal line but Manchester's defense was not able to get to it in time. Right wing Greg Moore assisted on Weller's first goal of the night at 5:32 of the opening period.
At 13:55 of the first period, Weller collected his second of the night from center Alexandre Giroux. Weller picked up the rebound from Giroux's backhander and slipped it past Hauser.
The first four goals may have belonged to Hartford, but the next four were all Monarchs. Right wing Alexandre Daigle put Manchester on the board at the 17-minute mark of the first period. Collecting a pass from defenseman Joe Rullier, Daigle skated into the Wolf Pack zone and as he cut across the center of the ice, he flipped a wrist shot into the lower right corner of the net.
Wolf Pack goaltender Al Montoya left the game at 19:58 of the first period with what appeared to be a right leg injury. Goaltender Robert Gherson replaced Montoya between the pipes.
The second period opened with a goal by rookie left wing Ned Lukacevic in his fifth professional game. Defenseman Doug Nolan fired a slap shot from the right point that right wing Ryan Murphy deflected but Gherson made the save. Lukacevic skated through the crease, picking up the rebound and backhanding it just inside the left post for his first professional goal at 4:19 of the middle frame.
Defenseman Mark Ardelan continued the Monarchs comeback with a power play goal at 5:17 of the second period. Set up on the points, defenseman Marty Wilford sent the puck over to Ardelan at the right point. Winding up, Ardelan shot the puck high as Gherson went down to the ice for the power play goal. Left wing Dany Roussin also assisted on the goal.
Tying the game 4-4, left wing Noah Clarke scored his third power play goal of the series at 10:54 of the second frame. Daigle passed the puck to Rullier at the left point who fed a cross-ice feed to Clarke at the right face-off circle. Clarke's one-timer soared past Gherson to even the game.
The Wolf Pack quickly recovered with Dubinsky's second of the night and Giroux's second of the series. Dubinsky picked up the puck in the left face-off circle, walked in on Hauser and shot the puck top shelf at 11:25 of the second period.
Giroux gave Hartford a two-goal lead again at 14:23 of the middle frame as he banged home a shot from the bottom of the left face-off circle. Weller and Sonnenberg assisted on the goal to give the Wolf Pack a 6-4 lead heading into the locker room.
The Monarchs responded with four more goals, this time unanswered. Clarke collected his second of the night from the right face-off circle at 3:15 of the final period. Left wing Jeff Giuliano took a pass from Clarke and skated from behind the net to the top of the crease to shoot the puck. Gherson made the save but the puck poked free to the right face-off circle where Clarke shot it over the kneeling goaltender.
Daigle collected his second of the night, this one on the power play, at 4:31 of the final stanza. Cycling the puck, Clarke sent it to Rullier at the right point who fed it to Daigle along the right wing boards. Daigle carried the puck to the top of the right circle and once there was plenty of traffic in front of the net, he blasted a slap shot that saw nothing but net.
With the game tied at 6-6, center Matt Ryan gave the Monarchs their first lead of the game at 13:46 of the final period. Left wing Petr Kanko gave the puck to Ryan at neutral ice and the center skated down the left wing and fired a wrist shot over the glove of Gherson.
Giuliano collected the insurance tally at 16:36 of the third period as he picked up the puck along the right wing boards, walked right in on Gherson, deked and flipped it into the back of the net to give the Monarchs the 8-6 come-from-behind victory.
Hauser (1-0), in his first post-season appearance this year, earned the victory with 32 saves. Gherson (0-2) took the loss for the Wolf Pack stopping 16-of-23 shots. Montoya (2-1) stopped five shots in the first period.
Manchester went 3-for-9 on the power play. Hartford was 1-for-6 with the man advantage.
Game six of the Atlantic Division Semifinal Series "B" will take place on Thursday, April 27 at 7:05 p.m. at the Verizon Wireless Arena. With a 3-2 lead in the series, the Monarchs will attempt to win their first playoff series in franchise history on Thursday.
For more information on the Manchester Monarchs visit thier official team website at www.monarchshockey.com