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Monarchs Continue Home Hot Streak

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
SPRINGFIELD, MA – The Manchester Monarchs put forth a complete team effort as they were able to overcome a two-goal deficit to beat the Portland Pirates, 5-4 in a shootout, for their eighth consecutive victory at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Manchester (16-10-0-2) is tied with the St. John’s IceCaps (15-7-4-0) for first place in the Atlantic Division with 34 points.  Portland (12-10-1-2) is in third place in the Atlantic Division with 27 points.
“It was a very impressive win for our team,” said Monarch Head Coach Mark Morris. “We skated hard, played hard and these guys really battled.  Every game, someone new comes to the forefront and helps carry the load which is nice to see.  Having three games in less than three whole days, to come out with the energy we played with tonight was a great thing to see from our guys.”
Centers Robbie Czarnik and Marc-Andre Cliche beat Pirates netminder Justin Pogge to give the Monarchs their fifth shootout win in their last 10 games.  Pogge denied right wings Stefan Legein and Jordan Nolan.  Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones stopped all four Pirates shooters, right wing Patrick O’Sullivan, center Andy Miele, center Brock Trotter and right wing Brett MacLean.
Portland opened up the scoring at 5:49 of the first period with a goal from MacLean.  After a Manchester turnover in the offensive zone, defenseman Dean Arsene gave the puck to Miele who carried it through the neutral zone and up the right wing.  Miele fired a centering pass to MacLean who was on the doorstep and able to muscle the puck past Jones for the first goal of the game.
The offensive attack continued for Portland early in the first period as they were able to capitalize for their second tally of the night on a goal scored by Trotter.  O’Sullivan started the breakout by moving the puck to defenseman Tyler Eckford as he gained the Monarchs zone.  Once he crossed Manchester’s blueline, Eckford put the brakes on at the top of the right face-off circle to avoid the Monarchs defense.  Eckford then slid the puck across the ice to the high slot where Trotter was able to one-time a slap shot on net.  Jones was able to get a piece of it but the puck found a hole and trickled past him at 6:49 of the opening frame.
The Monarchs responded quickly, scoring 0:15 later at 6:56 of the first period.  Right wing Justin Johnson won the battle for a loose puck after a neutral zone face-off.  Johnson moved the puck over to left wing Ray Kaunisto as they skated through the middle of the ice.  Kaunisto quickly tipped the puck over to defenseman Patrick Mullen as he crossed the blueline entering Portland’s zone.  Mullen moved quickly with the puck along the half wall before wristing a shot from the right face-off circle.  The shot from the circle beat Pogge cleanly on the blocker side for the Monarchs first goal of the night.
Portland struck first again in the second period with another goal from MacLean on a Pirates power play at 8.21.  After cycling the puck through Manchester’s zone, Trotter moved the puck to defenseman Nathan Oystrick who was at the center point.  Osytrick fired a shot on goal that was originally blocked in front by Monarchs defenseman David Kolomatis.  The puck became lost in the crowd in front of the cage before Maclean got a hold of it and snapped a shot through the screen that beat Jones five-hole.  MacLean’s second goal of the night and eighth tally of the season gave Portland the 3-1 advantage.
Manchester responded quickly again this time scoring at 8:52 only 0:31 after the Pirates third goal.  Left wing Dwight King won a battle for the puck behind Portland’s net and cycled the puck to right wing Brandon Kozun at the right hash mark.  Kozun surveyed the ice and found Czarnik wide open in the slot.  Czarnik fired a one-timer that beat Pogge high on his blocker side to bring the Monarchs bag to within one goal.
The Monarchs rallied to tie the game 3-3 at the six-minute mark of the third period.  Mullen acquired the puck in the neutral zone on a Pirates turnover and moved it ahead to right wing Linden Vey.  The rookie moved along the boards and passed the puck to a streaking Legein entering the Pirates zone from center ice.  Legin received the pass as he crossed the blueline and let a wrist shot go from the slot that beat Pogge high on his glove side.
Oystrick reclaimed their one-goal lead for the Pirates on a bad angle wrist shot at 7:23 of the final frame.  Maclean brought the puck behind the Monarchs net and cycled it to right wing Mike Watkins.  After receiving the pass from Maclean, Watkins found an open Oystrick at the bottom of the right face-off circle.  Oystrick shot the puck on net from a bad angle but the puck was able to sneak past Jones to give the Pirates a 4-3 lead.
Legein responded with his second goal of the afternoon to tie the game at 4-4 at 9:35 of the third period.  The play began when Kolomatis moved the puck behind his own net to defenseman Thomas Hickey who started the rush by skating through center ice. After drawing the defense toward him at the Pirates blueline, Hickey tipped the puck to his right, past the defense to Legein skating down the right wing.  Legin scooped up the pass and carried the puck to the right face-off dot before letting go a rocket of a slap shot that beat Pogge in the top right corner of the net.
Jones (9-7-1) earned his ninth victory of the season stopping 24-of-28 shots in regulation and all four shots in the shootout.  Pogge (3-2-2) took his second shootout loss of the season making 31 saves on 35 shots during regulation and 2-of-4 shots in the shootout.
Manchester went 0-for-3 on the power play.  Portland was 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
Notables:  The Monarchs are currently undefeated in regulation in their last five games (4-0-0-1) and are 8-1-0-1 in their last 10 games…Monarchs are 8-0-0-0 in their last 8 home games…Tonight was their fourth consecutive home game that has been decided by a shootout…Monarchs are 4-0 in those shootouts…Monarchs center Marc-Andre Cliche is 6-for-6 in his last six shootout attempts…Right wing Stefan Legein scored his first two goals as a member of the Monarchs…Legein also recorded his first multi-point game of the season…Center Robbie Czarnik recorded his first goal of his professional career…Right wing Justin Johnson recorded his first point of the season, an assist….Monarchs fans tossed stuffed animals onto the ice following defenseman Patrick Mullen’s goal for children in need this holiday season.
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