The Manchester Monarchs used second period goals by Nic Dowd and Michael Mersch to break a 1-1 tie in a 3-2 win over the Hartford Wolfpack (New York Rangers) Thursday night at Verizon Wireless Arena. Mersch’s second goal stood up as the game-winner as Mat Bodie scored with 13:17 remaining for Hartford to provide tension deep into the third period. J.F. Berube, who stopped 24-of-26 shots, was very good in the win, though Bodie’s perimeter shot (which may have been deflected upon release) snuck up on him on the short side to turn the game into a one-goal affair.
I’ll have quotes and some photos tomorrow morning. Until then, a few notes:
-Thank goodness I no longer have to type Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Also, Paul Bissonnette re-entered the lineup, replacing Ryan Horvat. He skated alongside Andrew Crescenzi and Zach O’Brien.
-Manchester had two very strong kills in the first period to keep the game 1-1. Though Mersch scored a grease-covered goal 35 seconds into the game, Hartford had periods of strong pressure in the first, and individual efforts by Nic Dowd and Nick Shore while shorthanded disrupted zone time and detracted from what little rhythm had been established on the Wolfpack man advantage.
-The Monarchs took a 2-1 lead on a nice play by Nic Dowd, who took advantage of a turnover and beat everyone down the ice – including both the Hartford defender and his teammates – and turned a 4-on-1 to what in essence was a breakaway. Showing a terrific flash of speed in quickly covering a wide swath of open ice down the left wing, Dowd snapped a quickly released shot over Yann Danis’ glove to give Manchester the lead it would not relinquish. Five minutes later, after having sustained heavy pressure, Mersch, from his knees, backhanded a loose puck off a knocked-down Kevin Gravel shot into an open net for the game-winner.
With tonight's game, Mersch, Weal and O'Neill have combined for 24 of 38 Manchester goals this postseason. #onfire
— Manchester Monarchs (@MonarchsHockey) May 22, 2015
Eastern Conference Final schedule:
1 MANCHESTER 3 vs Hartford 2
2 Saturday, May 23 / 4:00 p.m. vs Hartford
3 Tuesday, May 26 / 4:00 p.m. at Hartford
4 Wednesday, May 27 / 4:00 p.m. at Hartford
5 Saturday, May 30 / 4:00 p.m. vs Hartford*
6 Sunday, May 31 / 4:05 p.m. at Hartford*
7 Tuesday, May 2 / 4:05 p.m. vs Hartford*
-*if necessary; all times PT
Western Conference Final schedule:
1 Sunday, May 24 / 4:00 p.m. Grand Rapids (DET) at Utica (VAN)
2 Monday May 25 / 4:00 p.m. Grand Rapids at Utica
3 Thursday, May 28 / 4:00 p.m. Utica at Grand Rapids
4 Friday, May 29 / 4:00 p.m. Utica at Grand Rapids
5 Sunday, May 31 2:00 p.m. Utica at Grand Rapids
6 Tuesday, June 2 / 4:00 p.m. Grand Rapids at Utica
7 Wednesday, June 3 4:00 p.m. Grand Rapids at Utica
Mersch – Weal – O’Neill
Kempe – Shore – Auger/Backman
Van der Gulik – Dowd – Auger/Backman
Bissonnette – Crescenzi – O’Brien
Bodnarchuk – LoVerde
Forbort – Gravel
Schultz – Miller