MANCHESTER, NH - The Manchester Monarchs ran into red hot goaltender Thomas Greiss and fell to the Worcester Sharks, 4-2, in front of 7,705 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday night as Monarchs Country celebrated Rock The Mullet Night.
Manchester (33-28-0-6, 72 points) is in third place in the Atlantic Division. Worcester (33-30-1-2, 69 points) is in fifth place in the Atlantic Division.
"A hot goaltender and our inability to bury the puck was the deciding factor tonight," said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris.
Right wing Ryan Vesce advanced the Sharks lead to 3-1 at 6:06 of the final period. Defenseman Jason Demers passed the puck from the right corner to Vesce on the left doorstep. The winger took the puck from his forehand to backhand and slipped it past Monarchs goaltender Jonathan Bernier on the right side for his 22nd goal of the season. Defenseman Patrick Traverse picked up his second assist of the night.
In a chippie first period, the Monarchs players found themselves down by two men late in the stanza. Right wing David Meckler had 12 seconds remaining on his holding penalty and defenseman Andrew Campbell had just under a minute remaining on his cross-checking minor when center Tom Cavanagh capitalized with his 14 goal of the season at 18:46 of the opening frame. Traverse was parked at the left point and found Vesce skating in the left face-off circle. Skating in on Bernier, Vesce spied Cavanagh in the right face-off circle streaking toward the net. Cavanagh one-timed Vesce's feed over Bernier and into the top of the net for the 1-0 lead.
Refreshed after the intermission break, the Monarchs evened the game at 1-1 with a power play goal by center Brian Boyle at 6:11 of the second period. Center Gabe Gauthier controlled the puck behind the Sharks net and handed it off to center Marty Murray as he skated down the inside right wing. Murray quickly sent the puck through the crease to Boyle for the one-timer in the left slot that beat Sharks netminder Thomas Greiss for the center's ninth goal of the season.
Defenseman Derek Joslin gave Worcester their one-goal lead back at 16:19 of the middle frame. Left wing Trent Campbell carried the puck into the Monarchs zone and put the breaks on just inside the blueline. As Joslin skated into the left face-off circle, Campbell eyed his teammate and sent the puck over to him on the left side. Joslin controlled the puck and wristed the puck past Bernier on his stick side for his ninth tally of the season. Right wing Dan DaSilva picked up an assist on the go-ahead goal.
Monarchs' captain and center Marty Murray brought Manchester back to within one goal with his 12th tally of the season. Greiss stopped the puck behind his cage and attempted to send it around the boards but left wing Matt Moulson stopped the clearing in the left corner. The puck fell to the ice and left wing Scott Parse chipped a short pass to Murray at the bottom of the left face-off circle for a blistering one-timer into the net to bring the score to 3-2 at 12:13 of the third period.
Center T.J. Fox finished things off with an empty net goal with three seconds left in the game.
Bernier (19-19-3) took his 19th loss of the season stopping 23 shots. Greiss (21-19-2) earned his 21 win of the season with 29 saves.
Manchester went 1-6 on the power play. Worcester was also 1-6 with the man advantage.