ORONO, ME – University of Maine alumni, center Michel Leveille, scored his first goal of the season on his old stopping ground but the Manchester Monarchs fell to the Portland Pirates, 4-3, in a shootout in front of 2,797 fans at the Alfond Arena on Tuesday night.
Manchester (10-9-0-4, 24 points) is ranked sixth in the Atlantic Division. Portland (15-6-1-2, 33 points) is ranked first in the Atlantic Division.
"Squandering a two goal leading going into the third is maddening," said Head Coach Mark Morris. "They were better in the shootout then we were."
Right wing Teddy Purcell was the lone Monarchs player to score in the shootout while left wing Tim Kennedy and right wing Mark Mancari were successful snipers for the Pirates.
The first period ended in a 1-1 tie after Monarchs defenseman Andrew Campbell redirected in his second tally of the season and Pirates left wing Colin Murphy evened the game heading into the locker room with his third goal of the season. Campbell's tally came at the 15:47 mark of the opening frame when center Gabe Gauthier collected the puck just outside the left face-off circle from right wing Trevor Lewis. Gauthier fired a slap shot through traffic that Campbell redirected past goaltender Jhonas Enroth.
Portland's goal came at 18:11 of the first period when Murphy snuck behind Monarchs defensemen Josh Kidd and Campbell for a breakaway on goaltender Jonathan Quick. Defenseman Mike Kostka fed the puck to Murphy who broke in on Quick and beat him with a backhand shot. Defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani picked up an assist on the tying goal.
Leveille registered his first goal of the season at 2:39 of the second period. Skating on the power play, Campbell fed the puck to center Marty Murray who found Leveille in the slot. The former Black Bear backhanded the puck past Enroth for the go-ahead tally.
As the middle frame was nearing the end, Murray flipped the puck out of the Monarchs zone and toward the Pirates net. The puck knuckled and found its way past Enroth for Murray's third tally of the season and second in as many games. The Monarchs had just killed off a 5-on-3 advantage and Kidd remained in the penalty box for a high sticking double-minor when Murray collected the puck from defenseman Drew Bagnall by the Pirates bench and tossed the puck down the ice for Manchester's third goal of the game with .2-seconds remaining in the second period.
Enroth was replaced by netminder Adam Dennis following 40 minutes of play and 17 saves on 20 shots.
The Pirates began their comeback with left wing Aaron Slattengren's fourth goal of the season at 5:17 of the third stanza. Left wing Dylan Hunter passed the puck to Slattengren along the right wing boards. Down by the end redline, Slattengren tossed the puck toward the slot that snuck past Quick on his glove side to bring the score to 3-2. Center Tyler Bouck picked up the assist on the goal.
Portland tied the game, 3-3, at 12:19 of the final frame with center Colton Fretter's ninth tally of the season. Center Felix Schutz found Fretter deep in the Monarchs zone for the quick backhand shot that slipped past Quick for the tying goal. Gragnani recorded his second assist of the night on the tally.
Quick (5-5-2) took his second shootout loss of the season with 31 saves on 34 shots. Dennis (7-5-0) earned his seventh win of the season with 12 saves in regulation and 4-of-5 in the shootout after replacing Enroth (8-2-2) prior to the third period.
"We had the chance to put them away but we couldn't," said Morris. "We're going to demand more from our guys. We got running around and lost our focus enough to allow them to tie up the game."
Manchester went 1-for-4 on the power play. Portland was 0-for-6 with the man advantage.