Manchester (20-13-0-2) is in first place the Atlantic Division with 44 points. Bridgeport (14-17-3-1) is fourth in the Northeast Division with 32 points.
“We weren’t ready,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “We came out flat and credit them with a strong effort. They were all over us from the get go. We were a step slow and they capitalized on our missed coverages. The thing unraveled from there, but these are the ones you scratch your head and wonder where our focus was because it is unnerving to watch the guys you know that can do a certain job and do it well and then have it all unravel the way it did. We have to do a little bit of soul searching here and regroup and use this as a learning experience. It was not a pretty game and we had a lot of mental mistakes.”
The Sound Tigers struck first with a goal by right wing Sean Backman at 5:28 of the opening period. Left wing Michael Haley passed the puck from center ice to right wing Tony Ramano up the left wing boards as he entered the Monarchs zone. Ramano passed the puck to the streaking Backman who wristed a shot that bounced off goaltender Martin Jones
’ leg. Backman followed up his own shot and chipped in the rebound for his third goal of the season.
Bridgeport took a 2-0 lead in the first period on a power play goal by Haley at the 17:31 mark. Right wing Rhett Rakhshani passed the puck from the end wall to center Casey Cizikas in front of the net. Cizikas sent the puck over to the right face-off circle to Haley, where he snapped a quick shot off Jones. Haley grabbed his own rebound, looped around the right circle and fired off a wrist shot that found the back of the net for his third goal of the season.
The Sound Tigers took a 3-0 lead in the second period on their second power play goal of the night and Ramano’s third tally of the season. Forward Kael Mouillierat was pinned up against the right boards and was able to chip a pass out to left wing Scott Howes. The left wing skated the puck to the net from the right wing face-off circle before sending a pass across the crease for a one-timer by Ramano at 18:02.
Rakhshani scored his fifth tally of the season and Bridgeport’s third power play goal of the night to push the lead to 4-0 late in the third period. Defenseman Dylan Reese corralled the puck in the left corner of the Monarchs zone and passed the puck into the right slot to Cizikas. The center attempted a pass that was deflected by a Monarchs defenseman. Rakhshani scooped up the loose puck and launched a shot for the goal at 16:26.
Jones (11-9-1) took his ninth loss of the season stopping 34-of-38 shots. Sound Tigers goaltender Kevin Poulin (9-12-0) won his ninth game of the season making 24 saves on 24 shots.
Manchester went 0-for-5 on the power play. Bridgeport was 3-for-7 with the man advantage. Notables:
The Monarchs are 8-2-0-0 in their last 10 home games…The Monarchs are 2-1-0-0 against the Sound Tigers this season…Monarchs were shutout at home for the first time since October 8 against the St. John’s Ice Caps…Monarchs netminder Martin Jones
made his 60th start in a Monarchs uniform…Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff
and defenseman Thomas Hickey
were named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic…Zatkoff was also named Reebok/AHL Goaltender Of The Month.