MANCHESTER, NH – Left winger David Meckler
’s shootout goal lifted the Manchester Monarchs over the Worcester Sharks, 5-4, on Saturday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Manchester (17-7-1-2) snapped Worcester’s six-game win streak and currently lead both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference with 37 points. The Sharks (14-10-0-2) are tied for third place in the Atlantic Division with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (14-13-0-2) with 30 points.
“We had a sluggish start but we came back in the second period with strong efforts from Kevin Westgarth and Richard Clune. Corey Elkins had a good game as well,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “We corrected a lot of mistakes from early on, but to let [Worcester] back in to the game is not something we wanted to do.”
Following an uneventful overtime period, Meckler’s goal gave the Monarchs the shootout win in the eighth round. Monarchs right wing Geoff Walker, center Juraj Mikus, center Oscar Moller and center Gabe Gauthier also scored in the shootout, as did Worcester’s center Logan Couture, center Benn Ferreiro, left wing Brandon Mashinter and center Cory Quirk.
Defenseman Alec Martinez started the scoring, notching his second goal in as many nights with a blast from the left side boards at 2:43 in the first period. Defenseman David Kolomatis shot the puck high and wide of the net allowing it to wind around the boards to Martinez on the left side for the first tally of the game.
The Sharks were quick to retaliate as defenseman Michael Wilson blasted a puck from the left point to even the score at 6:31 of the first period. A face-off win by center Andrew Desjardins was quickly fed to right wing Dan DaSilva. The winger, feeling pressure from the Monarchs in their defensive zone, quickly passed the puck to Wilson at the point. The blast evaded Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff who lost sight of the puck through traffic in front of him.
Following a Monarchs turnover in the offensive zone on the power play, Ferreiro converted on a shorthanded breakaway opportunity at 13:17 in the first period. Center Steven Zalewski’s play on the forecheck forced a turnover that was fed up the ice to Ferreiro who was all alone streaking through center ice. His backhand shot beat Zatkoff top shelf on the glove side and the Sharks took the 2-1 lead.
Center Marc-Andre Cliche scored his fourth goal of the season at 7:39 of the second period to tie the game at 2-2. An up-ended Cliche flipped two pucks toward the net from his back. His first shot found the right pad of Worcester goaltender Tyson Sexsmith, but the second backhander by Cliche had enough clearance over Sexsmith’s extended leg to knot the score at two. Left wing Dwight King and defenseman Drew Bagnall collected helpers on Cliche’s goal.
Westgarth scored his third goal in two games with a second period tally at 14:23. Center Corey Elkins set up behind the Worcester net and passed the puck to King, who simply angled his stick to allow the puck to travel through the crease to Westgarth who was on the right doorstep. Westgarth flipped the puck over Sexsmith’s left shoulder to give the Monarchs the lead.
Westgarth followed up his previous goal with some insurance for the Monarchs at 5:13 of the third period. Westgarth skated behind the Worcester netminder and fired a tough-angled shot from the goal line in the left corner that snuck underneath the pads of Sexsmith, who was hugging the left post. Left wing Richard Clune and Gauthier assisted on Westgarth’s fourth goal in two games.
Zalewski brought the Sharks to within one goal at 15:01 of the third period. Couture fired a shot wide to the right of the goal that was collected quickly behind the net by Ferreiro. The center sent a no-look pass to the front of the net to Zalewski, who fired the puck past Zatkoff to bring the game to 4-3.
Roughly two minutes later in the third period, Ferreiro scored his second goal of the game to tie the score 4-4. Zalewski was fed a pass from Couture and skated toward Zatkoff with the puck and deked the netminder with a lateral puck movement. This moved Zatkoff out of position, allowing Zalewski to quickly feed the puck to a crashing Ferreiro who jammed it into the net to even the score.
Zatkoff (6-2-0) recorded his sixth win of the season and third shootout win while stopping 29 shots on 33 attempts. Sexsmith (2-4-1) recorded a shootout loss while stopping 25 shots on 29 attempts.
Manchester was 0-for-2 on the power play. Worcester went 0-for-5 with the man advantage.
Notables: Manchester ended Worcester’s six-game winning streak…The Monarchs gave up their first shorthanded goal of the season to center Benn Ferriero…Right wing Kevin Westgarth surpassed his 2008-09 season goal total of four tallies with his second goal of the evening…Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff has won all three shootouts he has played in this season.