|Monarchs 4, Aeros 2
| Official Box Score MANCHESTER, N.H. - Noah Clarke snapped a pair of ties - scoring with two seconds left in the second period and notching the game-winner on a shorthanded breakaway with 6:55 left in the third, as the Manchester Monarchs defeated the Houston Aeros 4-2 in Houston’s first ever trip to Verizon Wireless Arena. Former Minnesota Wild draft pick Barry Brust made 26 saves and Bernard Bernakevitch and Greg Hogeboom also scored for Manchester, which is unbeaten in regulation in its last five (4-0-1-0).
Defensemen Scott Ferguson and Erik Reitz each scored, Erik Westrum tallied two assists and Seamus Kotyk made 30 saves for first-place Houston (35-13-1-2), which kicked off a five-game road trip that continues Saturday at 6 p.m. in Hartford.
Less than a minute after an apparent Josh Olson goal was waved off due to an offsides call, Ferguson’s second goal of the season put Houston on top. Petr Taticek, along the boards, hit Ferguson at the center point. Ferguson sent a shot through a Roman Voloshenko screen and by Brust. Voloshenko was originally credited with the goal.
Bernakevitch got the Monarchs even with 7:05 remaining in the first. Former Aero Marty Wilford knocked the puck from the left point off the right wing boards to Brad Smyth. Smith backhanded a no-look pass to a cutting Bernakevitch at the left doorstep, and Bernakevitch beat Kotyk before he could range back to his right for his seventh goal of the season.
Brust made his best save of the night with six minutes left in the second period, as AHL leading scorer Westrum fed second-leading point-getter Kirby Law in front with Houston on the power play. Brust reached to the left with his glove and snared the rocket from the mid slot.
Kotyk helped rescue the Aeros with a shorthanded partial breakaway save on Bernakevitch late in the second.
Clarke gave Manchester its first lead, with two seconds left in the middle period and the Monarchs on the power play. Clarke snapped a shot from between the circles over Kotyk’s shoulder for his first of the game and 10th goal of the season.
Manchester’s Brad Fast nearly pushed the lead to two goals early in the third when he stole the puck shorthanded and broke in on Kotyk. But the Aeros netminder did the splits to make the skate save.
Reitz’ fifth goal of the season got Houston even at 8:15 of the third. Law fed Westrum in front on a 3-on-2, but Brust kicked out the pads to make the save. Reitz hopped on the rebound and pushed it just inside the post.
On the power play, Houston appeared poised to retake the lead later in the third, but Clarke stole the puck at center ice and broke in alone on Kotyk, beating the netminder five hole for his second of the game and 11th of the season with 6:55 left.
Hogeboom scored for the final margin with 4:29 left, finishing off a 2-on-1 as an Aeros defenseman slammed into Kotyk.
Hogeboom went off for hooking with 1:22 left, and the Aeros pulled Kotyk for the two-man advantage. Brust made a pad save on Law with 22 ticks remaining to secure the victory.
Houston finished 0-for-6 on the power play, while Manchester went 1-for-3. The Aeros have failed to score a man advantage goal in two straight games for the first time this season.
Notes: Not dressing for the Aeros were Josh Harding, Peter Olvecky, Matt Foy, Joey Tetarenko and Andrei Nazarov. Olvecky missed the third of four games from an AHL suspension stemming from a charging penalty last month in Peoria. Westrum also assisted on Ferguson’s goal, and today was also credited with an additional assist on Law’s goal January 15 against San Antonio, raising his league-leading point total to 75 (24-51=75). Taticek has at least one point in 13 of his last 14 games, with 17 points (3-14=17) in that span. He has an assist in all three games since returning from a stint with the NHL’s Florida Panthers. Houston hasn’t trailed after one period in any of its last 11 games. Ferguson picked up a minor penalty for interference, giving him 999 penalty minutes in his AHL career. Houston’s Patrick O’Sullivan, the AHL’s leading rookie scorer, had a three-game goal streak and five-game point streak snapped. The Aeros fell to 2-10-1-1 when scoring two goals or fewer, and 4-9-0-1 when allowing four or more. Houston was outscored on the power play for just the fourth time in the last 29 games.