MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Monarchs netted four first period goals to beat the Springfield Falcons, 4-1, at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday night.
Manchester (14-6-1-2) is in first place in the Atlantic Division with 31 points. Springfield (10-8-3-1) dropped to sixth place in the Atlantic Division with 24 points.
“The start was key to our win tonight,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “Periods two and three belonged to Springfield. They seemed to settle into their game and we seemed to be satisfied with our four goals but that’s the sign of a team that still has lots to learn.”
Center Marc-Andre Cliche tallied his second goal of the year and the eventual game-winner at 16:57 of the first period to put the Monarchs up 3-0. Monarchs center Corey Elkins broke in over the Springfield blueline with a couple of defenders trailing. Elkins broke in on the goaltender but as he cut to the net, he was taken down while sliding the puck into the right pad of the goalie. Elkins crashed into goaltender Aaron Sorochan as Cliche grabbed the puck outside of the crease and fired it into the open net. Defenseman Joe Piskula also assisted on Cliche’s goal.
Monarchs defenseman Patrick Mullen netted his first goal of the season with 9:20 remaining in the first period to put the Monarchs up 1-0 on the power play. Left winger Bud Holloway gathered the puck at his own blueline and sent it to Mullen who was streaking up the center of the ice. The hometown defenseman was tripped on his way to the net but was able to gather the puck above his head and shoot it while lying on his back. The puck swiftly went by the surprised Sorochan and into the back of the net.
Only twenty seconds following Mullen’s goal in the first period, Monarchs defenseman Drew Bagnall put his second goal of the season on the board to extend the Monarchs lead to 2-0. After some hard work down low, right winger John Zeiler collected the puck in the right wing corner of the Falcons’ zone. Zeiler sent a nifty pass cross-ice to Bagnall standing at the left point. The captain sent a blistering slap shot by the glove of the Springfield goalie. Cliche also collected an assist on the goal.
Manchester center Gabe Gauthier added to the Monarchs lead when he scored his third goal of the season with only 39 seconds remaining in the opening frame. Holloway stole the puck at the center redline stopping a Falcons rush and took the puck down the right wing boards toward the Springfield net. Holloway saw Gauthier streaking to his left and sent a swift pass along the ice toward the middle of the zone. Gauthier one-timed the puck along the ice to put the Monarchs up 4-0.
Springfield came soaring back when left winger Bryan Lerg scored his third goal of the season at the 7:41 mark of the final frame. The winger broke in alone against two Monarchs defenders and slid the puck between the legs of one of the Monarchs defenders and faked out the other defenseman to skate in all alone against Monarchs goaltender Jonathan Bernier. Lerg faked a shot to the left and then cut to the right putting the puck over Bernier who was sprawled out in the crease to cut the lead to 4-1. Right wing Jamie Bates and left wing Kip Brennan assisted on the goal.
The Falcons would make it a two-goal game when left wing Viacheslav Trukhno fired a wrist shot that beat Bernier for his third goal of the season at 14:58 of the final period. Falcons right wing Bill Thomas sent a pass to the right wing boards that was collected by Trukhno. The opposing winger took a shot from along the boards that snuck under the crossbar and over the glove of Bernier to bring the game 4-2. Defenseman Cody Wild earned an assist on the goal.
Bernier (10-5-2) earned his 10th win of the season with 29 saves on 31 shots. Sorochan (1-3-0) took his third loss of the season with 24 saves.
Manchester went 1-for-3 on the power play. Springfield was 0-for-3 with the man advantage.
Notables: Defenseman Patrick Mullen scored his first goal of the year (1-2=3)…The Monarchs scored two goals in a span of 20 seconds which is the fastest they have scored back-to-back goals this season…The Monarchs four goals in the first period are the most goals scored in one period by Manchester this season; the all-time record is five goals scored in the first period against Saint Johns on December 21, 2002 in a 7-4 win…Center Corey Elkins extended his point streak (2-1=3) to three games with an assist tonight.