NORFOLK, VA – Center Bracken Kearns tallied a pair of goals, including the game winner as the Norfolk Admirals topped the Manchester Monarchs 4-3 in front of 4,087 fans at the Norfolk Scope on Saturday night.
Manchester (34-30-5-4) remains in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with 77 points, three points ahead of the fifth place Springfield Falcons (32-31-5-5, 74 points). Norfolk (26-41-2-5) is in seventh place in the East Division with 59 points.
It only took until the 6:40 mark of the second period for the Admirals to tally their fourth goal on Kearns' second marker of the night and seventh on the year. Working with the man advantage, center Dana Tyrell received the puck at the back wall, freeing it to defenseman David Schneider at the top of the right circle. Schneider's ensuing shot was deflected past Monarchs goaltender Jonathan Quick by Kearns. Goaltender Curtis Darling replaced Quick after Kearns' second strike.
Norfolk opened the scoring 2:42 into the opening frame on a power play goal from Kearns. With Monarchs center David Meckler in the box for hooking, Norfolk set up on the man advantage. After a brief battle at the right wing half wall, Tyrell kicked the puck free to defenseman Vladimir Mihalik, who then unleashed a shot from the blue line that passed through a screen, off of Kearns, and past Quick. The goal was Kearns' sixth of the year.
The Admirals doubled their lead to 2-0 on right wing Chris Lawrence's fifth goal of the season, scored at the 12:36 mark of the first period. Controlling the puck in the trapezoid, left wing Rob Klinkhammer centered a pass to Lawrence in the slot for a one-timer that beat Quick to the glove side.
41 seconds into the middle stanza, Norfolk extended their lead to three on the 15th goal of the season from left wing Radek Smolenak. Following a Monarchs turnover in the defensive zone, Smolenak found the puck on his stick and the Admirals in a 2-on-1 break. Looking to pass, but electing to shoot, Smolenak backhanded the puck through the legs of Quick and into the net.
Manchester got on the board 10:18 into the second period with right wing Teddy Purcell's 21st goal of the season. Working on a power play of their own, Manchester set up in Norfolk's zone. Stationed at the right point, defenseman Jeff Likens cycled the puck to fellow blueliner Troy Milam at the high slot, who then forwarded the puck to Purcell at at the top of the left circle. Purcell uncorked a slap shot that sailed past the right shoulder of Admirals goaltender Ryan Munce to light the lamp.
The Monarchs pulled to within two with 1:51 remaining in the second period on a goal from center Marc-Andre Cliche. Monarchs defenseman Josh Kidd corralled the puck at the left wing half wall and flicked the disc toward the net. After rattling around in the slot, the puck settled at Munce's doorstep and Manchester's rookie forward potten his ninth goal on the year.
Manchester's third and final goal came courtesy of center David Meckler with 5:20 remaining in the final frame. Pulling up in Norfolk's zone at the left wall, Milam centered a pass to a streaking Meckler. Meckler's initial shot from the slot was turned aside by Munce, but the rebound floated to the right of the crease where Meckler gathered the free puck and flipped it over the diving goaltender. The goal was Meckler's 21st of the season.
Quick (7-8-0) took the loss, stopping 8 of 12 shots before being replaced by Darling, who denied 12 of 12 shots. Munce (3-6-0) was credited with the victory, turning aside 35 of 38 shots.
Manchester was 2-for-6 on the power play. Norfolk was 2-for-9 on the man advantage.