MANCHESTER, NH – Right wing John Zeiler scored twice and led the Manchester Monarchs past the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 5-3, in front of 5,957 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Sunday evening.
Manchester (10-8-5-1) is tied for third place in the Atlantic Division with 26 points. Bridgeport (10-8-1-3) is tied for fourth place in the East Division with 24 points.
The Monarchs jumped on the scoreboard first with center Patrick O'Sullivan's seventh goal of the year at 7:52 of the opening period. Right wing Tim Jackman fired a shot from the left point that was stopped by goaltender Billy Thompson. The rebound came out in front where left wing Noah Clarke and O'Sullivan were waiting. On the initial rebound, Clarke was rejected by Thompson but the puck trickled back out to O'Sullivan perched along the goal line. The second-year center stuffed it into the top left corner over the glove of Thompson.
Two minutes and eighteen seconds later, the Sound Tigers tied the game at one with a goal from center Frans Nielsen for his sixth goal of the year. After former Monarchs left wing Jeff Tambellini's shot was blocked, the puck bounced around amidst a scramble in front of the net. Nielsen was given two opportunities to score as his first attempt was stopped by Monarchs goalie Jason LaBarbera. The rebound went back to Nielsen who finally found the back of the net on the glove side. Center Robert Nilsson also recorded an assist on the equalizer.
At 16:26 of the first period, the Monarchs took the 2-1 lead on a power play goal by Zeiler for his fourth marker of the year. Left wing Matt Moulson brought the puck down into the right slot and fed a backhand pass across the crease to Zeiler who hammered it home for the goal. Clarke got the second assist on the goal for his second point of the night.
Just a little over two minutes later, the Monarchs increased their lead to two goals with a goal from center Matt Ryan for his first goal of the year. Playing in just his third game of the season, Ryan received a pass from center Gabe Gathier and then skated down the right wing. As he reached the right face-off dot, he uncorked a wrister into the top left corner of the net. Defenseman Eric Werner collected his team leading 13th assist on the goal.
In the second period, Bridgeport came to within one goal with a tally from center Jeremy Colliton for his fifth goal of the year at 5:38. Colliton was stationed in front of the net when a snapshot was fired toward the net by defenseman Kevin Mitchell. The shot, which made it through traffic, was tipped by Colliton and scored five-hole on LaBarbera. Sound Tigers right wing Blake Comeau was also credited with an assist.
At 14:22 of the second stanza, Manchester regained their two goal lead with Zeiler's second goal of the night, fifth of the season. Defenseman Bryan Schmidt sent a pass down the left side of the boards to winger Moulson who skated out of the corner and slipped a pass through the crease to Zeiler for a one-timer that beat the Sound Tigers netminder for a 4-2 lead.
Manchester thought they increased their lead to three when right wing Ryan Murphy put home a rebound off a slap shot from Werner. As soon as the puck crossed the line, the officials gathered and waived off the goal motioning that Murphy kicked the puck into the net.
At 15:16 of the third frame, right wing Konstantin Pushkarev lit the lamp for his first goal of the season. O'Sullivan sent a pass up the ice to Ryan who misplayed his attempt to score but then turned around and found a streaking Pushkarev. Ryan sent the puck to the slot and Pushkarev fired a wrist shot over the left pad of Thompson for a 5-2 lead.
In the second period, Bridgeport came to within one goal with a tally from center Jeremy Colliton for his fifth goal of the year at 5:38. Colliton was stationed in front of the net when a snapshot was fired toward the net by defenseman Kevin Mitchell. The shot, traveling through traffic, was tipped by Colliton and scored five-hole on LaBarbera. Sound Tigers right wing Blake Comeau was also credited with an assist.
LaBarbera earned the win with 33 saves on 36 shots. Thompson was hit with the loss stopping 28 shots.
Manchester went 1-for-6 on the power play. Bridgeport was 0-for-2 with the man advantage.
The Monarchs face-off with the Lowell Devils at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday, December 8 at 7:35 p.m. Catch all of the play-by-play action of Monarchs hockey with Ken Cail on the Monarchs Radio Network WGIR-AM 610 and at www.monarchshockey.com
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