The Manchester Monarchs chased Portland Pirates starter Mike McKenna after 30 seconds with Michael Mersch and Jordan Weal goals and used a four-goal third period barrage to streak to a 6-2 win in Game 2 of the clubs’ Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.
“We talked about it yesterday,” Head Coach Mike Stothers said. “We wanted to start quickly and get them on their heels. It was a good start.”
The Monarchs lead the best-of-five series two-nothing, with Game 3 scheduled for a 5:00 p.m. local start today in Portland, Maine.
For Mersch, his goal 20 seconds into the game, bookended by a third period empty-net goal, continued the Illinois native’s torrid stretch of late season hockey. With two goals, three points, a plus-five rating and five shots on goal through two playoff games, he now has 13 goals, 25 points, a plus-21 rating and 79 shots on goal in the 21 regular season and playoff games dating back to March 8. Click here to read the good things Mike O’Connell, Senior Advisor / Development Coach had to say about Mersch on Friday; after commending the 22-year-old’s ability to drive to the net, he did just that to get Manchester on the scoreboard early Saturday night.
Jeff Schultz – deemed to be “close” after Game 1 – re-entered the lineup for Manchester in place of Kevin Raine, though David Van der Gulik and Josh Gratton did not play on Saturday after having left Thursday’s game early. 2014 first round pick Adrian Kempe made his AHL playoff debut and registered one shot on goal and a plus-one rating. Ryan Horvat also entered the lineup – his picture is below – and tallied two penalty minutes and one shot on goal. Andrew Crescenzi was assessed a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct in the second period. Nick Shore recorded three assists in the win and now has four assists and a plus-six rating through two playoff games.
Having taken leads into the third period in both playoff games thus far, Manchester has done a good job shutting the door by out-shooting Portland 18-7 through the first two games.
For the live audio of today’s game at 2:00 p.m. PT, click here.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
1-Manchester Monarchs vs. 8-Portland Pirates
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 23 – MANCHESTER 5, Portland 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 25 – MANCHESTER 6, Portland 2
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 26 – Manchester at Portland, 5:00
*Game 4 – Thu., Apr. 30 – Manchester at Portland, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., May 2 – Portland at Manchester, 7:00