Jordan Weal and Brian O’Neill each scored twice and Justin Auger netted his first career AHL playoff goal as the Manchester Monarchs surged past the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins with three unanswered goals in a 5-2 Game 2 win Thursday night at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester. With a 2-0 series lead, the series will shift to Wilkes-Barre for games three (Saturday), four (Monday) and, if necessary, five (Tuesday). GAME SHEET
1 MANCHESTER 4 vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3 (3 OT)
2 MANCHESTER 5 vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 2
3 May 9 / 7:05 p.m. at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
4 May 11 / 7:05 p.m. at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
5* May 12 / 7:05 p.m. at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
6* May 15 / 7 p.m. vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
7* May 16 / 7 p.m. vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Mike Stothers, on the Game 2 win:
Different being in the score, but very similar in how hard it is to find any space out there. Again, it was a good hockey game. I was real pleased with the way we vcame out early and we looked like we had some energy, which I think is important. Even if you don’t have it, you have to try and make sure that you show that you do. And there was that flurry there that was just going back and forth for two teams that are supposed to be defensively minded. You know what? That’s part of it. That’s what good teams do, both sides. You look at it, and you go ‘we score, they score, they score we score,’ and that’s what good teams do. I think that this match-up is tremendous. I really do. I’ve got the utmost respect for Wilkes-Barre and the way they play. I just like the way they play.
Stothers, on the approach to the games in Wilkes-Barre:
Well, we’ve got to go in there thinking that the series is zero-zero. The two games mean nothing. We found that out in the first round, and I’m sure they’re not over there feeling sorry for themselves. They know that they’ve been very good at home. They’ve got a good hockey club. You know what? Both of these games could’ve gone either way. There’s a lot to be played for, and we’ll travel there [Friday] and get ready for Saturday.
Stothers, on what he expects in Game 3:
Well, they’ll get whatever match-ups they want to get with the last change, and I’m sure they’ll have some energy from their building and the hometown crowd, and as I’ve said, they’ve been very good at home. We’ve been in there twice this year. They were, I think, one-goal games, if I remember correctly. It’s not going to be any different. It’s going to be tough, tough hockey.
Stothers, on the team’s resilience:
Well, you know what? We have done it, and I just like our guys – the approach. We stayed pretty focused and determined on what we need to do. You’ve got a guy like O’Neill, he probably – as he said to me when he put it towards the empty-net and it wasn’t an icing and a [defensive zone faceoff – he comes to the bench and he goes, ‘I probably could’ve made a better decision, huh?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ But now it’s how we respond. How does he respond? He puts it in the empty net. So I mean when you’ve got character people like that, you’ve got some good leaders, it’s a good approach to have, and I look at their team, they’ve got Kostopoulos – if I’m pronouncing his name wrong, I apologize. Don’t ask me to spell it. But he’s a great leader. He’s a great captain. That’s what this game’s all about, is having people like that. Character people, guys who know how to win and guys who know how to lead a team. That’s what I think is a great match-up right there.
Michael Mersch, on the Game 2 win:
We knew they were going to come out with a big push after we won in…triple overtime [Wednesday] night. Again, it was a good game. You’ve got to give ‘em credit. They played hard. You can tell they’re a well coached team, so we were just able to capitalize on our chances and put pucks and bodies to the net. That was our M.O. tonight, and it showed on the scoresheet.
Mersch, on any fatigue following a triple overtime win the night prior:
Well, we were able to come in this morning and kind of clean up and hydrate and do all that…stuff that helps in the long run in these playoff series. As long as we keep taking care of our bodies and doing the right things, it won’t be an issue at all.
Mersch, on his playoff success:
I’ve been saying it all along – they do a good job here of developing their players. It’s not just me, it’s those guys before and those guys in that locker room that are doing the same things and working hard and getting better. It’s just developing, working hard and staying the course. That’s about it.
Mersch, on whether this is how he envisioned his rookie year in the AHL:
I came in with an open mind. Whatever the team needed me to do, that’s what I was going to do. You’ve got to be able to play every role on a team, so that’ll hopefully help the team. Whatever role it’d be – if it’s a fourth line, third line, second line, first line – whatever it is, I’m willing to do it for this team. It’s a great honor because we have a lot of good, tough guys on this team.
Mersch, on the approach to the games in Wilkes-Barre:
Play a good road game, which consists of getting pucks in deep, eliminating some of the blue line turnovers. Just get in on the forecheck. They’ve been able to break our forecheck a few times, so I’m sure we’ll [shore] things up on that other stuff. Nothing really changes from our standpoint, though, besides that, because we’ve just got to get pucks and bodies to the net. That’s about it, so that’s what we’re going to do.
J.F. Berube, on the Game 2 win:
I think we played pretty much the same game as [Wednesday]. Not too many mistakes and we just put the pressure on them. Guys battled hard even though we were a little tired with the late ending last night, but we found a way to put pucks in the net.
Berube, on any fatigue following a triple overtime win the night prior:
I felt really good, to be honest. I was surprised when I woke up [Thursday] morning. I think it was all the work I did this year and last summer. You work out for playoffs and long games like that. I think my recovery was really good and I felt really good tonight.
Berube, on his own performance:
I was really confident. I think I was seeing the puck well. Rebounds were excellent I thought. They’re going to have chances and I’m going to have to make big saves and it’s just try to keep the guys in the game.
Berube, on taking a two-nothing series lead on the road:
That’s huge. A team at least wants to split the games and now we have a 2-0 lead. We can’t be satisfied with that though. We saw the last series with Portland that they came back after. We know it’s going to be a battle going there. We have three games there and we have to get the job done.
Berube, on what they have to do to get wins in Wilkes-Barre:
Just keep doing the same thing. I think we’re doing a good job not changing anything because we’re on the road. I think it doesn’t matter where we play, we just have to play with the same confidence.
Berube, on Jordan Weal’s impact on Game 2:
That’s what we expect from him. Everyone knows what he’s capable of doing and he’s just playing his game and he’s a role player. His role is to put the puck in the net and that’s what he’s doing. He’s doing a good job at it.