MANCHESTER, NH – Center Gabe Gauthier scored the game-winning goal at the 3:43 mark of overtime to lift the Manchester Monarchs over the Portland Pirates 3-2 in overtime in front of 7,047 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday night.
Manchester (12-8-5-1) moves into second place in the Atlantic Division with 30 points. Portland (14-8-1-2) remains in first place in the Atlantic Division with 31 points.
The Monarchs stole the early lead from the Pirates at 4:50 of the first period. Manchester was awarded their first power play of the game after a roughing penalty was called on Pirates defenseman Aaron Rome. Defenseman T.J. Kemp, at the top of the right face-off circle, took a tape-to-tape pass from right wing Ryan Murphy who was down in the right corner. Kemp saw right wing John Zeiler on the prowl in the left face off circle and fed him a pass. Zeiler settled the puck and let it rip on Pirates netminder Nathan Marsters. The puck bounced off the inside of Marsters' left pad and ricocheted off the right post, making friends with the back of the net for Zeiler's sixth goal of the season, fifth on the power play.
The Pirates came back from the intermission break with cannons blazing. At 2:12 of the second period, right wing Pierre Parenteau intercepted the puck from the Monarchs in there own zone and broke away on a 2-on-1 rush with center Zenon Konopka. Lone defenseman Brendan Buckley was all who skated between the puck and goaltender Jason Labarbera. Once the Pirates broke through the blueline, Parenteau glided the puck past Buckley, who had dropped to the ice in an attempt to block the pass. LaBarbera, sliding to his left to take the shooter, was caught off guard with the pass over to Konopka and tried to recover. The center for Portland took advantage of the partial open net and fired a wrist shot over LaBabera's stick, putting the Pirates on the scoreboard. The goal was Konopka's eighth tally of the season.
Portland struck first in the final period at 5:14 on a power play as left wing Noah Clarke sat in the penalty box for the first time this season. Defenseman Kent Huskins carried the puck along the right side of the Monarchs zone before passing it to Rome who was docked at the top of the left face-off circle. Rome received the pass from Huskins and released a slap shot that was saved by LaBarbera's right pad. The puck drifted to Parenteau who was streaking towards the right post. The right winger corralled the loose puck and put a wrist shot past the Monarchs netminder for his eighth mark of the season, which gave a 2-1 lead to the Pirates.
Wasting no time right wing Konstantin Pushkarev, wearing his new number 13, brought the battle back to even at 2-2 at 5:51 of the third period. Defenseman Joey Mormina fed a pass to Pushkarev above the right face-off circle who showed the electric crowd some Michael Cammalleri (former Monarchs center) style stick handling driving the puck hard to the net. Marsters was unable to follow the puck as it approached the crease. Pushkarev uncorked a wrist shot from his left side beating the Portland netminder over his stick side and lighting the lamp for his second tally of the season and second point while wearing 13.
The final period ended with a score of 2-2 and forced overtime. Buckley hit Kemp with a pin-point pass and he took the puck down the right side of the boards. Just as Kemp was about to break past the back of the net, he turned up ice and snuck a pass to Gauthier at the top of the crease. Gauthier pounced on the puck to unleash a furious point-blank shot sinking the Pirates hopes for the win. The Monarchs earned two points in their first home overtime victory.
LaBarbera earned the win blocking 32 of the 34 shots. Marsters received the loss stopping 22 shots on 25 attempts.
Manchester went 1-for-8 on the power play. Portland went 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
The Monarchs hit the road to face the Pirates at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Friday, December 15 at 7:05 p.m. Catch all of the play-by-play action of Monarchs hockey with Ken Cail on the Monarchs Radio Network WGIR-AM 610 and at www.monarchshockey.com
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