Providence, RI – The Manchester Monarchs fell short in overtime after the Providence Bruins scored a power-play goal Friday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Arena. With this most recent loss, the Monarchs are officially 4-2-1-0 against the Bruins this season. Despite the tough loss the Monarchs’ goaltender, Patrik Bartosak, made a career-high 41 saves during Friday night’s matchup.
From the very beginning, the Monarchs’ skills were put to the test as they were forced to adjust their style of play to better handle the many bouncing pucks that skidded across the ice. The players initially struggled to adapt to the unusual bounces which caused much of their stick work to suffer. However, this was not the only issue faced by the Monarchs during their battle with the Bruins.
The Monarchs did not play up to their usual standard for they surrendered control to the Bruins for much of the game. The Bruins consistently won the 50/50 puck battles against the Monarchs. This allowed the Bruins to have the upper-hand in deciding where they wanted to move the puck. Defensively, the Bruins implemented tight man-to-man pressure against the Monarchs, which forced them to either play 1 v 1 or make a quick pass. Many of these forced passes were mishit or sent directly to the other team causing an unfortunate turnover in the Monarchs’ defensive end. The Bruins quickly capitalized on any and all of the Monarchs mistakes by creating shooting opportunities that stemmed from their opponent’s errors.
As the announcer declared that there was one minute remaining in the first period the Monarchs increased their momentum and stepped up their play. Merely 16 seconds left to play in the first, Brian O’Neill slapped the puck past Malcolm Subban after receiving a centering pass from teammate, Nick Shore. This goal gave the Monarchs the advantage heading into the second period taking the first lead of the game.
Getting on the board first is one thing, but keeping a lead is a whole different battle. At 13:53 in the second period the Bruins tied the game with a blast from David Warsofsky off of a rebound in front of Monarchs’ goaltender, Patrik Bartosak. The third period of regulated play included 12 shots a piece, but no points were earned for either team, which sent the game into overtime.
Subban served as a brick wall in OT as he held strong against the determined Monarchs. He even turned away Michael Mersch’s penalty shot which was awarded to him after being hooked on a breakaway. The Bruins earned the win after Alexander Khokhlachev notched the game-ending goal on a power-play at 4:24 into OT. The penalty had been called on Shore for tripping at 3:19. The Monarchs defense stayed tight in front of the net as they worked to keep the Bruins out wide, but unfortunately their penalty kill proved to be unsuccessful with only three defenders.
“I’ve seen us play better,” Head Coach Mike Stothers shared. “I don’t think we really had our legs underneath us.” It was clear that the Monarchs were off-balance and lacked the kind of momentum and higher level of play expected from a team that is currently ranked first place in the Eastern Conference.
Looking forward, the Monarchs hope to learn from the mistakes they made against the Bruins and work their way back into the wins column. The Monarchs are off for the All-Star break which will occur this upcoming Sunday and Monday. They’re back in action Jan. 30 at home where they will play host to the Portland Pirates as they compete in a VIP Cup Series at 7pm.