MANCHESTER, NH – Left wing Matt Moulson scored his first two goals of the season but the Manchester Monarchs fell to the reigning Calder Cup champion Chicago Wolves with a 3-2 shootout loss in front of 5,008 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Sunday evening.
Manchester (2-5-0-3) is ranked seventh in the Atlantic Division with seven points. Chicago (9-2-1-1) is in first place in the west Division with 20 points.
The teams were still at a deadlock after overtime and went to a shootout. The Wolves collected two tallies in the shootout and Chicago goaltender Robert Gherson blanked the Monarchs. Right wing Junior Lessard scored the first after roofing a shot over Quick's glove. Center Riley Holzapfel ripped a snap shot off the post and into the net for the Chicago victory.
Moulson got the Monarchs off to an early lead by tallying twice before the halfway point of the opening series. At the 4:16 mark Moulson scored from a near impossible angle to notch his first goal of the season. Center Gabe Gauthier and right wing John Zeiler got the assists on the first goal of the game. It was Zeiler's first point since joining the team on Nov. 3. Tonight's assist for Gauthier ended a four game scoring drought.
Three minutes later, Moulson tallied his second goal of the game when he ricocheted the puck off of Gherson from the end boards. Center Michel Leveille and Gauthier picked up the assists on the play at 7:42 of the first period to give the Monarchs the 2-0 lead.
In the second period, Monarchs goaltender Jonathan Quick prevented the Wolves from getting on the board with a post-to-post save. At the 12-minute mark, defenseman Grant Lewis was fed the puck from across the hash marks. With an empty net in sight, he shot the puck but was unable to put the rubber in the back of the net as Quick sprawled across the crease to make the save.
The Wolves pulled it within one at the 6:13 mark in the third period when Lessard notched his fourth goal of the season. Center Matt Anderson passed the puck to Holzapfel giving him a bit of an edge on Manchester's defense. Holzapfel fired a quick shot from the right face-off dot. The shot was saved by Quick but the rebound bounced onto Lessard's stick and he slid it past the netminder for the goal.
With under a minute to go in regulation and an empty net, the Wolves got the equalizer that sent the game in to overtime. At the 19:28 of the final frame, right winger Joe Motzko took a shot from the blueline through traffic toward the net. The puck got kicked off of a Monarchs defenseman and over to left winger Brett Sterling who was able to beat Quick for the late tally.