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Monarchs Win Eighth Straight

by Kim Mueller / Los Angeles Kings
J.F. Berube earned his second win for the Monarchs.

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Manchester Monarchs defenseman Alec Martinez scored the game-winning goal as they defeated the Portland Pirates, 4-3, on Friday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena to extend the team’s season-high win streak to eight games.

Manchester (43-26-3-6) concluded their regular season home schedule in third place in the Atlantic Division with 95 points. Portland (44-23-7-4) remains in second place in the Atlantic Division with 99 points.

“We had good execution in the first period – Bud (Holloway) and Corey (Elkins) executed a perfect 2-on-1,” explained Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “We came out flat in the second period, but executed well on the 5-on-3.

“With three players called up to Buffalo, give Portland credit for playing a good game,” said Morris.

Skating in a 5-on-3 situation, Martinez scored the game-winning goal at 9:24 of the third period. In a game that featured physical play by both teams, the Monarchs took advantage of Portland penalties to center Travis Turnbull and center Paul Byron. After cycling the puck around the perimeter, center Oscar Moller held it at the top of the right face-off circle as the remaining Monarchs staked claim to open ice. Martinez was positioned at the center point of the blueline when he corralled the Moller pass and fired a slap shot on net that beat Portland goaltender J.P. Lamoureux to put the Monarchs up 4-3 late in the third period.

Center Corey Elkins began the scoring for the Monarchs at 11:05 of the first period. Defenseman David Kolomatis began the odd-man break in the neutral zone, passing the puck up to left wing Bud Holloway, who was skating up the right wing. Entering the Pirates zone on a 2-on-1 breakaway with Elkins, Holloway slid the puck across the slot and underneath a defender’s stick. Elkins flicked the puck past Lamoureux to give Manchester the early lead. The goal was Elkins’ team-leading 21st of the year.

Center Andrei Loktionov scored his ninth goal of the season for Manchester at 12:41 of the first period. Firmly entrenched in the offensive zone, defenseman Drew Bagnall fired a puck on net that was turned aside by Lamoureux. The rebound fell onto the stick of Moller, who quickly fed the puck to Loktionov on his left side. Lamoureux, who had slid out of position because of Bagnall’s blast, easily tucked the puck around the left post for the goal that doubled up Portland 2-0.

Portland scored their first goal of the game at 2:02 of the second period off the stick of defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani. As right wing Kyle Wanvig entered the offensive zone, Gragnani crept to the front of the net to create traffic and a screen. Wanvig fired a shot on goal from the right wing boards that rode up the stick of a Monarchs defender. With the puck in the air, the crease battle began with Gragnani mixing things up in front of the net. Gragnani ended up forcing the puck through the traffic in front of the net for his 11th tally of the season.

The Pirates evened the score at 2-2 on a goal by center Paul Byron at 3:28 of the second period. Skating up the left wing boards, defenseman Drew Schiestel held the puck and waited for a passing opportunity. With play settling down, Schiestel threaded a pass through the slot that found Byron positioned along the right post. Monarchs netminder J.F. Berube, expecting the shot to be on goal, was slid out of position, creating a wide open net on the right side for Byron to score his 13th goal of the season.

The Monarchs scored the go-ahead goal at 15:59 of the second period as Moller scored his 15th goal of the season. With Manchester firmly entrenched in the offensive zone on a 5-on-3 situation, Kolomatis fired a blast on goal from the point that hit traffic in front. Following a scrum in front of the net, Moller emerged from the puck battle victorious as he forced the puck past Lamoureux. Portland would argue vehemently that the puck was thrown into the net by Moller, but the officials did not side with the Pirates and the go-ahead goal was allowed to stand.

Left wing Brad Larsen scored his 13th goal of the season at 5:08 of the third period to knot the game at 3-3. Left wing Philip Gogulla, positioned at the left point, shuffled a pass to his right that caught the stick of defenseman T.J. Brennan. From the right point, Brennan fired the puck into the crease, where Larsen redirected it past Berube for the tying goal.

Berube (2-0-0) records his second victory in as many games with the Monarchs stopping 18-of-21 shots on net. Lamoureux (13-11-2) drew the loss, stopping 24-of-28 shots.

Manchester went 2-for-6 on the power play. Portland was 1-for-8 with the man advantage.

NOTABLES: The Monarchs extend their season-high win streak to eight games (8-0-0-0)…Manchester gave up their first power play goal to their opponent in their last eight games; they stopped their opponent on 26 consecutive power plays…Center Oscar Moller (15-18=33) has 14 points (6-8=14) in his last 10 games…Defenseman Alec Martinez (7-22=29) has 15 points (3-12=15) in his last 11 games…Goaltender J.F. Berube earned his second professional win with 18 saves.
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