MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Monarchs fell to the Albany River Rats for the first time in 14 games dating back to an overtime loss on December 6, 2002, with 5-2 loss in front of 2,882 fans at the Times Union Center on Friday night.
Manchester (2-2-1-0) remains in third place in the Atlantic Division with five points. Albany (2-1-0-1) is in second place in the East Division with five points.
The first four goals of the game came off the sticks of River Rats players as they had a 4-0 lead halfway through the second period. Left wing Ryan Bayda scored his first goal of the season at the 32-second mark of the first period to start the scoring for Albany. Right wing Jerome Samson fired a shot from the right face-off circle that Monarchs goaltender Dan Cloutier slid to the right side of the net to make the save. The puck popped free to the left of Cloutier and Bayda was there to chip the rebound into the open net. Center Keith Aucoin earned an assist on the first goal of the game.
Center David Gove doubled the River Rats lead at 7:34 of the opening period. The puck traveled behind the Monarchs net and center Bobby Hughes tossed the puck from an odd angle below the bottom red line toward Cloutier. The veteran goaltender made the initial save but could not control the rebound as Gove tapped it under Cloutier's right pad for his second tally of the season. Left wing Mike Angelidis collected an assist on the goal that brought the game to 2-0.
The third tally by Albany came at 15:48 of the opening frame by left wing Brandon Nolan. Defenseman Wade Brookbank passed the puck to center Nicolas Blanchard in the offensive zone. Blanchard slid the puck through the slot and under Cloutier as he dropped to the ice. Nolan was on the left doorstep to redirect the puck into the net for his first goal of the season and to bring the score to 3-0.
Goaltender Erik Ersberg replaced Cloutier in the Monarchs net following the first period. Cloutier finished with 11 saves on 14 shots in 20 minutes of play.
Samson collected his second point of the night, third goal of the season at 10:01 of the second period. On the power play, Aucoin sent a pass from the left face-off circle into the right slot. Samson was standing on the doorstep to redirect Aucoin's pass over Ersberg's glove for the 4-0 lead. Nolan also earned an assist on the play.
Center Gabe Gauthier put the Monarchs on the scoreboard and extended his scoring streak to five games with a power play goal at 15:59 of the middle frame. Right wing Teddy Purcell ripped a pass from between the hash marks to Gauthier stationed to the left of the goal. Gauthier redirected the pass into the open net for his third tally of the season. Defenseman Brian Boyle earned an assist on the Monarchs first goal of the game.
Hughes redirected a shot past Ersberg at 2:57 of the third period for his first goal of the season to give the River Rats a 5-1 lead in the game. Defenseman Brett Carson picked up the puck at the right point and flipped a wrist shot toward Ersberg. Hughes hopped in front of the goaltender and redirected the puck over Ersberg's glove. Aucoin earned his third assist of the night.
The final goal of the evening came off the stick of Monarchs defenseman Troy Milam. At 10:45 of the final stanza, the defenseman entered the offensive zone and tossed the puck at the net. Screened by players, River Rats goaltender Kevin Nastiuk did not see the puck until it had passed his right arm and into the net. Gauthier and Purcell earned assists on Milam's first goal of the season.
Cloutier took the loss for the Monarchs. Ersberg made 15 saves on 17 shots through two periods of play. Nastiuk earned the win for the River Rats by stopping 27 shots.
Manchester went 1-for-4 on the power play. Albany was 1-for-5 with the man advantage.