MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Monarchs couldn't withstand the pressure handed to them by their former head coach Bruce Boudreau as the reigning Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bears won 5-3 in front of 9,822 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday night.
Manchester (39-17-6-1) is leading the Atlantic Division with 85 points. Hershey (38-13-6-5) is in second place in the East Division with 87 points.
The Bears opened the scoring early at 1:26 of the opening frame. Defenseman Donny Grover collected the puck along the left wing boards and fired a snap shot toward the net. The shot was redirected in the low slot by left wing Chris Bourque and the puck snuck past Monarchs goaltender Jason LaBarbera and then off of the left post. The rebound landed on the left side of the crease where center Joey Tenute was placed perfectly to slam the puck into the open net.
Less than four minutes later at 5:04 of the first period, the Monarchs tied the score at 1-1 on a goal from left wing Dany Roussin. Defenseman Richard Petiot, making his season debut following an injury, took a slap shot from the left point. Roussin tipped the shot on top of the crease and the puck went through the legs of Hershey's goaltender Maxime Daigneault. Right wing Lauri Tukonen also earned an assist on the tally.
At 13:36 of the first period, the Bears moved ahead 2-1. Center Kyle Wilson took a shot from the left point but the attempt was blocked by Monarchs center Gabe Gauthier. Wilson picked up the deflection and shot it under the left arm of LaBarbera. Right wingers Alexandre Giroux and Jakub Klepis added assists to the goal.
With one second remaining in the first period, the Bears increased their lead to two goals with center Dave Steckel at the helm. Steckel, a former Monarch, fired a slap shot from the right circle through traffic. The puck got to LaBarbera but trickled through his legs and barely crossed the goal line. Left wing Quintin Lang and Tenute collected assists on the power play goal.
The Monarchs cut the Bears lead in half to make the score 3-2 at the 3:15 mark of the second period. Left wing Matt Moulson made a pass through the neutral zone to defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky. The veteran broke through two defenders just over the Bears blueline and created a short breakaway toward Daigneault. Tverdovsky faked the shot right, moved the puck over to his backhand and then roofed the puck into the top left corner of the net. Center Marty Murray also produced an assist on the play.
Moulson tied the score with a powerplay tally at 7:31 of the middle frame. Center Shay Stephenson collected the puck behind the Bears net and passed it out to Moulson in the low left slot. The winger then drilled a snap shot over the right shoulder of Daigneault for the goal. Tukonen also had an assist on the marker.
At 11:44 of the second period, Bourque put the Bears back on top with his 17th goal of the season. The left wing took the puck out of the right corner and tried to slide it past LaBarbera. The goalie made the save but the rebound found its way back onto Bourque's stick who then shot the puck past the recovering LaBarbera. Centers Tenute and Matt Reid earned assists on the tally.
With 6:20 remaining in the game, Bourque recorded his second goal of the game to put the Bears up 5-3. The winger took the puck into the Monarchs zone and ripped a snap shot on LaBarbera. The shot then trickled through the goalie's legs and into the net.
LaBarbera took the loss with 31 saves on 36 shots. Daigneault earned the win by stopping 26-of-29.
Manchester went 1-for-4 on the power play. Hershey was also 1-for-4 with the man advantage.