MANCHESTER, NH – Right wing Kevin Westgarth
collected two goals and defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov collected a goal and two assists as the Manchester Monarchs secured a 7-1 victory over the Hartford Wolf Pack at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday night.
Manchester (16-7-1-2) holds on to sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division with 37 points. Hartford (13-9-1-2) is now tied for third place in the Atlantic Division with 29 points.
“The results were certainly unexpected, that’s for sure,” remarked Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris after Friday night’s game. “We could have used a couple of those [goals] the other night. I don’t want to take anything away from Hartford, but they had a tough night in net.”
The Monarchs would take advantage of a hooking call to Hartford’s right wing Dale Weise with Voynov’s fifth tally of the season. Center Oscar Moller set up behind the Hartford netminder Steve Valiquette’s cage as players jockeyed for position in front of the net and created traffic. Center Gabe Gauthier crept up the right side, picked up a pass from Moller and fed the puck into the gathered crowd. Voynov won the battle in the crease and redirected the wrist shot past Valiquette for the eventual game-winning goal at 7:25 of the opening period.
Immediately after a scrum featuring left wing Richard Clune of the Monarchs and left wing Devin DiDiomete of the Wolf Pack, Gauthier won the subsequent face-off and fed the puck directly to left wing Geoff Walker who was positioned to the right of the center. Walker fired a blast that beat Valiquette, giving the Monarchs the 1-0 advantage at 3:30 of the first period.
The third Monarchs goal in the first period came with some assistance from a Wolf Pack defender. Voynov and Westgarth skated up-ice on a two-on-one break. Voynov passed the puck to his left across the ice to Westgarth. The right wing fired a wrist shot toward the net that Hartford’s defenseman redirected the puck between the legs of Valiquette. Westgarth’s second goal of the season came at 9:21 of the first period.
Following Westgarth’s first goal of the night, Valiquette was replaced by netminder Matt Zaba.
The next two Monarchs goals were scored within two minutes and 18 seconds of each other. The first of the two goals came directly off of a turnover in the neutral zone. Voynov picked off an errant pass and fed the puck to center Juraj Mikus who was streaking up the ice from Hartford’s blueline. At the top of the left faceoff circle, Mikus fired a shot past Zaba. Mikus’ second goal of the season came at 12:19 of the opening stanza to give the Monarchs a 4-0 lead.
The record tying fifth goal of the period came in the shorthanded fashion off the stick of center Marc-Andre Cliche. Gauthier and defenseman Joe Piskula combined to force a turnover at the Wolf Pack’s blueline and immediately fed the puck to Cliche. The center out-skated the defender and netted his second shorthanded goal of the season and third tally of the season at 14:38 of the first period.
Valiquette returned to the net for the final two periods after being relieved by Zaba for the last 10:39 of the first period. At 1:01 of the second period, defenseman Alec Martinez netted his first goal of the season on the power play to bring the score to 6-0. Martinez went streaking toward the net and chipped the puck into the open night on the right doorstep off a feed from center Corey Elkins. Moller also picked up his second assist of the night.
Right wing Derek Couture scored the lone goal for the Wolf Pack at 9:04 of the second period. Couture collected a drop pass from center Ryan Garlock and put the puck in the top right corner of the net behind Monarchs goaltender Jonathan Bernier. Defenseman Michael Sauer also picked up an assist on the goal.
At 18:28 of the third period, Westgarth scored his second goal of the game. While stationed in front of the goal on the power play, Westgarth redirected a shot by Walker from the left point. Walker’s stick broke on the play, but the puck had more than enough momentum for Westgarth’s redirection to pass through the five-hole of Valiquette. Defenseman Joe Piskula also collected his second assist of the night.
Bernier (11-6-2) collected his 11th win of the season with 19 saves on 20 shots. Valiquette (0-1-0) took the loss for the Wolf Pack in his first game of a two-game conditioning stint. Zaba, who saw 10:39 of play time, stopped 2-of-4 shots.
The Monarchs were 3-for-8 on the power play. The Wolf Pack was held scoreless on the power play in two chances.
Notables: The Monarchs tied the franchise record for most goals scored in one period with five tallies in the first period…The last time the Monarchs scored five goals in a period was on December 21, 2002 when the Monarchs notched five goals in the first period of a 7-4 win over the Saint John Flames at the Verizon Wireless Arena…Right wing Kevin Westgarth collected his first multi-goal game of his career with two goals…Center Oscar Moller surpassed center Andrei Loktionov (6-11=17) for the Monarchs scoring leader with 18 points (8-10=18).