ROCKFORD, IL – The Manchester Monarchs' three game winning streak and six game road winning streak came to an end at the hands of the Rockford IceHogs in a 4-1 loss in front of 2,055 fans at the Rockford MetroCentre on Wednesday night.
Manchester (18-17-4-2) is in fifth place in the Atlantic Division with 42 points. Rockford (25-9-3-5) leads the West Division with 60 points.
Less than 30 seconds after center Petri Kontiola scored from the right face-off circle, left wing Bryan Bickell repeated Kontiola's move to give the IceHogs a 2-1 lead at 13:31 of the opening stanza. Left wing Adam Berti fed the puck to Bickell who skated into the same position in the right face-off circle and snapped a shot into the top left corner of the net. Center Gavin Morgan collected an assist on Bickell's ninth tally of the season.
Manchester jumped out on the scoreboard first with center Trevor Lewis' eight goal of the season. Defenseman Troy Milam fed the puck up the ice to Lewis who broke into the IceHogs zone all alone. Skating one-on-one on goaltender Corey Crawford, Lewis shifted from his backhand to his forehand and flipped the puck over the sprawling goaltender just inside the right post. Defenseman Jeff Likens also assisted on the Monarchs tally at 8:38 of the opening frame.
Kontiola evened the game at 1-1 at 13:05 of the first period with an unassisted goal, his 10th of the season. Kontiola stole the puck along the Monarchs blueline and raced in on goaltender Erik Ersberg. At the right face-off circle, Kontiola unleashed a wrist shot over the right shoulder of the netminder to tie the game.
Rockford increased their lead to 3-1 as left wing Troy Brouwer scored a power play goal at 15:43 of the first period. The IceHogs cycled the puck along the end boards from Kontiola to center Martin St. Pierre. The centerman found Brouwer at the inside of the right face-off circle for a one-timer that sailed over Ersberg for the IceHogs' third consecutive goal.
Ersberg took a seat on the bench following the first period. The rookie netminder stopped 10-of-13 shots before he was replaced by goaltender Daniel Taylor at the beginning of the middle period.
Center Evan Brophey finished off the Monarchs at 14:10 of the third period with his second goal of the season. Morgan threw the puck out in front of the net and Brophey flipped a backhand shot past Taylor.
Ersberg took the loss for the Monarchs with 10 saves in the first period. Taylor stopped 20-of-21 shots in two periods of work for Manchester. Crawford earned the victory with 34 saves.
Manchester went 0-for-7 on the power play. Rockford was also 1-for-6 with the man advantage.