MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Monarchs scored three first period goals to beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 3-1, at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Wednesday night.
Manchester (13-6-1-2) regained sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division with 29 points. Bridgeport (11-11-0-1) is tied for fifth place in the Atlantic Division with 23 points.
“We got out to a quick start and found a way to close the gate on them,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “It’s huge to pick up goals from guys like (Kevin) Westgarth and (Geoff) Walker. We had a big team effort. It’s times like this that you have to rely on everyone to get goals and we’ll take them as they come. We have a game plan and we executed it.”
Center Corey Elkins scored his seventh goal of the season and his first game-winner just 19 seconds into the Monarchs first power play of the game. Elkins positioned himself on the right doorstep just in time to receive a pass from center Gabe Gauthier who controlled the puck behind the net. Elkins’ one-timer into the top of the net gave the Monarchs a 2-1 lead. Defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov assisted on the power play goal at 6:58 of the first stanza.
Following his recall from the ECHL’s Ontario Reign on Monday, right wing Geoff Walker scored his first goal of the season with the Monarchs only 39 seconds into the game. Gauthier picked up a pass from left wing Richard Clune behind the Sound Tigers cage. The center quickly threw the puck into the crease where Walker was skating to redirect the pass into the net.
The Sound Tigers collected the equalizer at 5:50 of the opening period when left wing Jesse Joensuu tallied his fourth goal of the season. Joensuu skated in on Monarchs goaltender Jonathan Bernier and stuffed the puck past the netminder to even the game at 1-1. Left wing Greg Mauldin and defenseman Jon Gleed assisted on Bridgeport’s lone goal.
Right wing Kevin Westgarth added an insurance goal at the 13:39-mark of the first frame with his first tally of the season. Monarchs defenseman David Kolomatis snapped a wrist shot from the top outside corner of the right face-off circle. Westgarth was able to redirect the puck from his position between Kolomatis and the net that tricked goaltender Nathan Lawson to give the Monarchs a 3-1 advantage. Right wing John Zeiler also recorded an assist on the goal.
Bernier (9-5-2) earned his ninth win of the season with 29 saves on 30 shots. Lawson (5-5-0) took his fifth loss of the season with 14 saves.
Manchester went 1-for-2 on the power play. Bridgeport was 0-for-5 with the man advantage.
Notables: Manchester’s win ended their longest losing streak (0-2-0-0) this season…The Monarchs 17 shots on goal are the fewest shots in one game for the team this season…Right wing Geoff Walker’s goal 39 seconds into the game is the fastest opening goal of the season…Center Corey Elkins is on a two-game goal scoring streak…Elkins’ seven goals rank second on the Monarchs in goal scoring behind center Oscar Moller (eight)…Goaltender Jonathan Bernier’s nine wins are tied for fourth in the AHL.