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Monarchs Drop Game 1

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
Loktionov scored his first goal of the postseason, but the Monarchs fell, 4-2 in Game 1.

HERSHEY, PA – The Manchester Monarchs late rally comeback fell short as the Hershey Bears took game one of the 2010 Calder Cup Eastern Conference Final, 4-2, at the Giant Center on Wednesday night.

“(Hershey’s first goal) put us behind the eight ball,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris following Wednesday’s game. “Having a goal scored against us 16 seconds in and 8,000 people rocking your world, it rattled us. We need to be more on with our effort and compete level. We did a lot of standing around in the beginning. Playing in front of that many fans was a bit overwhelming for many of our players. As the nerves calmed, our play picked up. We’ll try to build on our momentum that we built in the second half of the game and be more disciplined in Saturday’s game.”

Center Steve Pinizzotto scored his third goal of the playoffs to give the Bears a 3-0 advantage at 7:25 of the second period. Grabbing the puck in the neutral zone, Pinizzotto carried it down the right wing. Faking a shot at the top of the right face-off circle, Pinizzotto took two more strides and then snapped a wrist shot into the top of the net for the eventual game-winner.

Hershey struck very early in the game with a goal only 16 seconds after the opening face-off from defenseman Sean Collins. Putting pressure on the Monarchs in Manchester’s zone, left wing Chris Bourque tried to center the puck into the slot but his pass deflected off some bodies and found its way out to the left point. Collins blasted a one-timer from just outside the left face-off circle that snuck through traffic and beat Monarchs goaltender Jonathan Bernier on his glove side. Center Mathieu Perrault picked up an assist on Collins’ first goal of the post-season.

The Bears doubled their lead at 10:02 of the first period with right wing Andrew Gordon’s 10th goal of the season. Center Keith Aucoin began the play by feeding a cross-ice pass from the left point to left wing Alexandre Giroux in the right face-off circle. Giroux fired a one-timer on net that Bernier made the pad save on. Gordon was streaking down the center of the zone, picked up the rebound and flipped the puck into the back of the net to give Hershey a 2-0 lead.

The Monarchs got on the scoreboard at 12:32 of the third period with center Andrei Loktionov’s first goal of the playoffs. Defenseman Jacob Muzzin sent the puck into the right corner. Loktionov battled with the Bears defense and dug the puck off the end boards and carried it into the bottom of the right face-off circle. Spinning toward the net, Loktionov ripped a shot that beat Bears netminder Michal Neuvirth on his glove side. Left wing Kyle Clifford picked up his first professional point, an assist, on the Monarchs first goal of the game.

Defenseman Karl Alzner gave the Bears their three-goal lead back with his second goal of the playoffs at 14:18 of the third period. Left wing Boyd Kane and Alzner skated into the Bears zone on a 2-on-1 breakaway. Skating along the left wing, Kane carried the puck and found Alzner between the hash marks for a one-timer into the top left corner of the net.

The Monarchs cut Hershey’s lead in half at 16:10 of the final frame with center Gabe Gauthier’s fourth goal of the post-season. Right wing Trevor Lewis sprung center Oscar Moller along the left wing. Moller tossed the puck toward the net and Gauthier tipped it past Neuvirth to bring the score to 4-2.

Bernier (8-3) took his third loss of the playoffs with 24 saves on 28 shots. Neuvirth (7-0) earned his seventh win of the season stopping 24-of-26 shots.

Manchester went 0-for-3 on the power play. Hershey was 1-for-5 with the man advantage.

NOTABLES: Manchester’s record in the first game of a playoff series is 3-9; but in the four series the Monarchs have won, they have lost the first game twice and won the first game twice…Bears defenseman Sean Collins’ goal 16 seconds into the game is the fastest goal against the Monarchs in the post-season in franchise history…Center Andrei Loktionov’s goal was his first of the playoffs…Left wing Bud Holloway’s point-streak came to an end tonight as he was held off the scoreboard; he had 11 points (6-5=11) in the first 10 games of the post-season…Center Gabe Gauthier is on a five-game point-streak with four goals and one assist for five points.
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