A 5-4 win against the Providence Bruins Saturday night extends the Manchester Monarchs winning streak at home to eight games beginning on Nov. 8. Despite the grueling battle between the two teams, the Monarchs managed to inch past the Bruins in the third period of the game in order to earn the win. Jordan Weal led the Monarchs to victory by tallying a team-high of four points with his one goal and three assists against the Bruins.
With their captain Vincent LoVerde out with an injury from Friday night’s game against the Sharks, the Monarchs were forced to adjust their lines and add some different players into the mix. Even with their captain out of commission the Monarchs were able to keep up the intensity and take down the Bruins to even their season series with two games each. “I think the greatest strength was just the guys that came in and hadn’t had a lot of ice time” said Monarchs center, Jordan Weal. “They stepped it up and showed the depth of our team and the organization and that’s why we’re at the top right now because everyone’s stepping up when they get called upon.”
Both teams came out firing with energy from the very first faceoff of the game, but it was the Bruins who were the first to light the lamp at just 2:34 into the first period. Tommy Cross dished the puck to Anthony Camara who launched a quick wrist shot that deflected past the Monarchs goalie, Jean-Francois Berube, to give the Bruins an early lead.
Defensively the Monarchs set up in a wider formation than the Bruins by keeping their wings at the points and the other three remained in a changing triangle around Berube. The Monarchs stayed wide which forced the Bruins to create different possible shooting angles through varied movements. This allowed the Bruins to cut into the center of the ice to get a quick shot off without immediate pressure from the Monarchs’ defense. Despite this flaw in their defensive zone the Monarchs were able to even the score with a power play goal from Nick Shore at 9:27 with help from Derek Forbort and Andrew Bodnarchuk.
After Bruins’ Justin Florek received the first penalty of the game for hooking, the Monarchs didn’t waste much time before launching the puck past Malcolm Subban in net. The Monarchs made sure not to rush the play but played rather patient offense as they passed the puck around the outside in order to allow their teammates to cut towards the goal and to create better shooting angles. The Bruins’ defense fell a little flat during the Monarchs power play. The Bruins played it safe at first by not challenging their opponents when they had the puck, which the Monarchs took advantage of by using this time to hold the puck until they could reach an open teammate.
This was just the first power play of the game, but after Florek received another penalty against the Monarchs for boarding the Bruins were forced to play man-down yet again. The Bruins demonstrated messy puck handling when trying to get the puck out of their defensive end, which the Monarchs used against them by turning these errors into shots on net. The Monarchs increased their offensive drive during this power play by taking more shots on goal and then quickly recovering the rebounds. Less than a minute into the power play the Monarchs’ Kevin Gravel sent a one-timer rocket past Subban off of a pass from the center of their offensive zone just within the blue line. Nic Dowd and Weal helped Gravel become open by working the puck between the two of them through their crisp passing and flawless stick work around the Bruins’ defense. The short, quick passes between Dowd and Weal caused the Bruins to swarm towards the puck in a clump. This allowed Gravel to be open and take a shot from the top with little to no traffic because of how tightly bunched the Bruins were on the side.
The intensity of the crowd increased after yet another power play goal for their beloved Monarchs which caused the players to pick up their momentum even more. Less than thirty seconds later Justin Auger found the back of the net with help from his teammates David Van der Gulik and Weal. The determination portrayed by the Monarchs was very clear as Auger slapped the puck past Subban while his crashing to the ice. This goal allowed the Monarchs to take the lead as they head into the second period 3-1.
The Monarchs play fell short in the second period of the game after surrendering their two-goal lead. The Bruins’ play increased both offensively and defensively. The Bruins were more aggressive and playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulder which kept them motivated to take the lead back despite being in the hole two goals. It didn’t take long for the Bruins to put one past the Monarchs’ defense. At only 3:39 into the second period Bruins’ David Pastrnak scored a power play goal with assists from Jordan Caron and Justin Florek just a few seconds into their first power play of the game.
The Monarchs allowed the Bruins to have the man advantage after David Van der Gulik was sent to the box for tripping. The Monarchs were not on a penalty kill for very long when Pastrnak swept the puck past Berube. The Monarchs maintained their usual defensive positioning for the penalty kill with three players tight around net and the fourth high pressure chasing the puck. However they appeared to be scattered and disorganized as they attempted to play defense on the Bruins, which seemed to be a lack confidence for the Monarchs. Their uncertainty and flush of panicked thoughts allowed the Bruins to confidently take advantage of their insecurities by working the puck quickly around and in to Pastrnak on the post. The same thing happened again after Nick Ebert earned a penalty for holding which resulted in another power play goal for the Bruins. At 8:21 in the second period Brian Ferlin flicked the puck over Berube’s glove and into the back of the net off of a feed from line-mate, Ethan Werek. Yet again the penalty kill was unsuccessful due to the lack of confidence and scattered defense displayed by the Monarchs. The remainder of the second period went scoreless but continued to be a battle between the Bruins offense and the Monarchs defense.
The teams head into the final period of the game tied with three goals each and neither team letting up. As the third period began the Monarchs offense reappeared and was not going down without a fight. Just 2:17 into the period the Monarchs took back the lead off a power play goal from Brian O’Neil which was the perfect demonstration of good chemistry between line-mates. Nick Shore and O’Neil made it look easy as they glided down the ice implementing flawless passing as they skated past the Bruins defenders and tipped the puck past Subban.
About halfway into the third period the Monarchs added to their lead after Jordan Weal earned his fourth point of the game off of his goal assisted by Zack O’Brien and Sean Backman. Just a few minutes later Pastrnak put the Bruins within one of the Monarchs after he slapped the puck past Berube with help from his line-mates Jordan Caron and Justin Florek. Despite their final efforts, the Bruins folded under the Monarchs defensive pressure.
“I thought the guys played well,” Head Coach Mike Stothers said. “Providence is a good team. They have guys who can cause fits all night, but we found a way, and that’s a good thing.” The Monarchs hope to bottle up this momentum and save it until after the holiday so that when Dec. 26 rolls around they will be ready to take down the Bruins yet again and make their season series 3-2.