|Jeff Zatkoff lost his third straight game, stopping 36-of-44 shots.
PORTLAND, ME – Right wing Mark Mancari picked up five assists as the Manchester Monarchs fell to the Portland Pirates, 6-1, at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Tuesday afternoon.
Manchester (29-15-2-5) ranks first in the Atlantic Division with 65 points. Portland (25-16-5-2) is in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with 57 points.
“It was a disappointing loss,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “We had some passengers in the game this afternoon and we’re not the type of team that can afford to have some players that are not sharp. It takes a team effort and the total team effort wasn’t there.
“We had some glorious opportunities in the second period to win the game – grade-A chances to blow the game wide open but we gave up three (goals) instead. We had a goal in the third period that would have been a good way to get back in contention but it was disallowed as the net was off the post.”
Left wing Jeff Cowan put the Pirates ahead, 2-1, with his second goal of the game and 14th tally of the season at 7:17 of the second period. Monarchs defenseman Alec Martinez attempted to clear the puck from Manchester’s zone but Mancari stopped the pass and fed the puck to Cowan at the bottom of the right face-off circle. Cowan’s shot beat goaltender Jeff Zatkoff near the right post.
Center Justin Azevedo put the Monarchs on the scoreboard early with his third tally of the season only 39 seconds into the first period. Following the opening face-off, left wing David Meckler fed the puck to left wing Richard Clune deep in the Pirates zone. The rebound off of Clune’s initial shot found Azevedo at the top of the crease for the quick shot that beat goaltender Jhonas Enroth.
The Pirates evened the score at 1-1 with Cowan’s 13th goal of the season at 6:08 of the opening frame. Putting on pressure in the Monarchs zone, right wing Kyle Wanvig cycled the puck to center Paul Byron deep in the zone. Byron handed the puck over to Cowan who carried the puck from the left wing corner, up the boards and into the left face-off circle. Cowan snapped a shot on net that beat Zatkoff to tie the game.
Center Tyler Ennis doubled Portland’s lead to 3-1 at 18:02 of the second period. Defenseman Joe DiPenta held the puck in at the right point and Mancari took the pass up the right wing half wall before riffling a shot at Zatkoff. The netminder made the initial save but Ennis was on the doorstep to backhand the puck into the net.
Left wing Brad Larsen collected his seventh goal of the season at 18:02 of the second period to give the Pirates a 4-1 advantage. Defenseman T.J. Brennan sent a pass to Mancari at the center point. Mancari fired a slap shot from the point that Zatkoff made a pad save on. The rebound bounced out between the hash marks where Larsen one-timed the puck into the top of the net, beating the netminder on his blocker side.
Close to the 11 minute mark of the third period, Clune appeared to have scored from an odd angle for the Monarchs but the referee waved it off. The reasoning for the no-goal was the net was off its bearings.
Ennis picked up his second of the game at 12:07 of the final stanza to extend the Pirates lead to 5-1. Mancari shot the puck from the left face-off circle and Ennis tipped it past Zatkoff in the crease and he was cross checked to the ice. Defenseman Mike Weber picked up an assist on Ennis’ 15th goal of the season.
Brennan finished off the Monarchs with his third goal of the season at 17:13 of the third period. Left wing Philip Gogulla fed the puck up the ice to Mancari who carried it into the Monarchs zone along the right wing. At the half-wall, Mancari snapped a shot toward the net that Brennan tipped up and over Zatkoff for the goal.
Zatkoff (8-6-0) took his sixth loss of the season stopping 38-of-44 shots. Enroth (19-14-1) earned his 19th win of the season recording 37 saves on 38 shots.
Manchester was 0-for-3 on the power play. Portland was also 0-for-3 with the man advantage.
Notables: Manchester’s unbeaten in regulation streak ended at four games (3-0-1) with today’s loss…All seven goals in today’s game were scored when the teams were at even strength…Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff is on a three-game losing streak…Center Justin Azevedo has two goals in his first three games since returning from an injury he suffered on November 18…Azevedo is the lone Monarchs player to record a plus-1 rating in today’s game….Pirates right wing Mark Mancari collected five assists in today’s game.