MANCHESTER, NH – Right wing Kevin Westgarth
got the nod for the game-winning goal as the Manchester Monarchs knocked out the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in a 5-1 victory on Wednesday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena in front of 8,564 fans. The Monarchs remain five points ahead of the Springfield Falcons (33-31-5-5, 76 points) for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.
Manchester (36-30-5-4) is in the fourth and final playoff position in the Atlantic Division with 81 points. Bridgeport (37-32-1-3) is in sixth place in the East Division with 78 points.
At 13:46 of the second period, Westgarth scored his first game-winning goal of the season as he beat goaltender Mike Morrison, blocker side, on a redirection. Center David Meckler passed the saucer from the left boards to defenseman Drew Bagnall just inside the blueline on the left side. The heavy hitter directed a slap shot toward Westgarth who nudged the puck over the shoulder of Morrison for a 2-0 lead that could not be trounced. The Monarchs went on to score three more goals and Bridgeport netted one for a final score of 5-1.
Center Brady Murray started the night off with his 11th goal of the season at the 15:15 mark of the first period. Defenseman Jeff Likens' shot on net was deflected off the shin of a Bridgeport defenseman right to right wing Lauri Tukonen just above the left face-off circle. Tukonen sent the disk cross-ice to Murray at the top of the right face-off circle where he lit the lamp over Morrison to give the Monarchs the early lead.
Tallying his first professional goal, defenseman Josh Kidd increased the Monarchs lead to 3-0 at 16:17 of the middle frame. Murray controlled the puck along the left boards as Kidd entered the offensive zone. The rookie defenseman directed the pass from Murray off his left skate and onto his stick. As he dropped to one knee, just beyond the left face-off circle, Kidd let go a wrist shot that knuckled through the five-hole of Morrison for the score while defenseman Patrik Hersley earned an assist on the goal.
With his team leading 29th goal of the season, center Brian Boyle put the Monarchs up by four. Boyle, a 2007-08 All-Rookie Team member, took a pass from Tukonen and went end-to-end with the puck. As he made his move toward Morrison, Boyle went backhand to forehand and netted a wrist shot stick side at 19:08 of the second period. Defenseman Troy Milam was awarded the secondary assist on the tally.
Ending the Monarchs 4-0 run and goaltender Jonathan Quick's shutout was former Monarchs left wing Jeff Tambellini scoring with a mere 28 seconds left in the middle frame. After receiving the saucer from defenseman Matthew Spiller, Tambellini uncorked an unbalanced shot from the slot beating Quick stick side to bring the Sound Tigers within three. Also receiving an assist on the lamp lighter was center Ben Walter.
Center Marc-Andre Cliche got on the score sheet at the 13:59 mark of the final period in the trilogy as Murray collected his third point of the night. Off the face-off, Murray pushed the puck toward the Bridgeport net that ricocheted off a Sound Tiger defenseman. Cliche controlled the puck in the slot and skated toward the post to the left of Morrison. As he approached, the 6-foot-1 center flicked a backhander over the netminder's stick for the final score of 5-1.
Quick deflected 29-of-30 shots on net. Morrison took the loss stopping 30-of-35 shots on net.
Manchester went 0-for-3 on the power play. Bridgeport was 0-for-4 with the man advantage.