MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Monarchs and Worcester Railers played a home-and-home series over the weekend, with the Monarchs taking both games from their division rivals.
The Monarchs invaded the DCU Center for a Veterans’ Day tilt, the third showdown between the two teams so far this season. Manchester (8-3-1-1) piled six goals on the Railers (5-5-1-0), including a hat-trick from forward Kevin Morris, to earn their first win of the season against the returned Worcester squad.
The Monarchs’ offense got off the ground at 9:59 of the opening period, when Morris got the first of his four weekend goals. After Tony Cameranesi fired a shot from inside the left circle, Morris was there to redirect it between the legs of Worcester tender Mitch Gillam to make it 1-0 Manchester.
Less than two minutes later, Cameranesi picked up a goal of his own. Receiving the puck in the Worcester end, he skated with it through the zone before taking the wrist shot, which beat Gillam and doubled the advantage for the Monarchs, 2-0, at 11:47 of the first.
Morris would put in goal number two at 3:17 of the second when he and Matt Schmalz broke free of the defense and moved the puck back-and-forth between them before Morris took the shot and put the puck past Gillam for a 3-0 lead.
The lead would go to four goals at 6:31 of the second on a goal from Michael Doherty. The Monarchs took the puck into the Worcester end, where it found the stick of Rob Hamilton. Hamilton found Doherty streaking toward the net and sent the pass across the zone, where it bounced off of his skate and into the net. After a review confirmed the good goal, the score would go to 4-0.
The Railers would finally score in the second period at 16:23. With the Railers up a man on the power-play, Barry Almeida fired the puck from the left of Monarchs goaltender Charles Williams. Williams was down in the crease after contact with a Railers player, and the puck entered the net to bring the score to 4-1 in favor of the Monarchs.
The score became 4-2 at 17:12 of the second when the Railers scored a shorthanded marker. Forward Kellen Jones picked up the puck and broke into the Monarchs’ defensive end. Williams handled the first shot but left a rebound, which Jones knocked home to cut the Monarchs’ lead to two.
That was as close as they would get, however. Morris completed the hat trick at 18:54 of the middle period, taking another crisp pass from Cameranesi and one-timing it past Gillam to put the score at 5-2. It was Morris’s first professional hat trick.
The Railers would make a hard push in the third, scoring their third and final goal at 2:07 of the period. Center Jeff Kubiak sent a pass to Kyle McKenzie at the point, who slapped the puck through the zone and past Williams to make it 5-3 Monarchs. But the Monarchs’ defense would hold from there, and Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman scored the capper at 18:30 of the third. Smotherman chased down a puck to beat an icing call and put the puck into the empty cage for 6-3. That would be the final.
The Monarchs would then host the Railers at the SNHU, where they would again achieve victory, their third straight, by a score of 5-2. Morris came through with his fourth goal in two nights to start the scoring, putting the puck past goaltender Eamon McAdam at 4:43 of the first. Taking a neutral zone pass from Matt Marcinew, Morris charged the Railers’ zone and fired a wrist shot that beat McAdam on the stick side to make it 1-0.
The rest of the period was quiet, but period two started quickly when Sam Kurker doubled up the lead just 16 seconds into the frame. Captain David Kolomatis missed a shot wide of the net, which rebounded off the end-wall to Craig Wyszomirski, who wristed the puck, which deflected off a few players and into the net for 2-0. Kurker was credited for the goal, with Doherty receiving the primary assist, and Wyszomirski the secondary.
They would make it three straight for the second night in a row at 7:53 of the second. Cory Ward stripped the puck off of a defenseman’s stick and turned on the net, potting it five-hole to make it 3-0. The Railers would finally score at 19:15 of the second when leading scorer Patrick McNally found gold on the power-play. Set up by a pass from Chris Langkow, he snapped the shot that beat Monarchs’ goalie Evan Cowley to pull the Railers to 3-1.
Monarchs’ goal number four would come from Marcinew at 9:52 of the third, yet another tally on a resurgent Manchester power-play. Ward slid a pass to Marcinew in the defensive zone, and the forward streaked toward the Railers’ end, beating McAdam glove-side to make it 4-1 Monarchs.
Worcester would find another goal on a shot by Wade Murphy. Set up for Langkow’s second assist of the night, Murphy took a bad angle shot near the goal line that snuck by Cowley and into the cage for 4-2. But the Monarchs would find their second empty-netter in as many nights at 17:54 when Zac Lynch put the puck into the vacant cage to finalize the 5-2 win.
A six-point weekend is exactly what the Monarchs wanted from the start of this brutal stretch. Everything worked out fairly well for Manchester, getting strong goaltending performances from Cowley and Williams, and incredible offensive production against the tough netminding tandem of Gillam and McAdam. Their power-play came to life for a 5-for-13 clip over the three games against Jacksonville and Worcester. Morris’s four goals helped to stoke the offensive fire, and 15 Monarchs players picked up at least one point against the Railers. With two more games against Worcester coming up in the next week, the Monarchs managed to shake off the first two defeats with very decisive victories.
It wasn’t all good news: Cameranesi left the game Sunday after taking a huge hit in the first period. He did not return. A long-term injury would be quite a blow, as Cameranesi currently leads the team with four goals and ten assists.
The Railers are the only team which has held the Monarchs to under thirty shots in a game this season, and they’ve done it twice. The Railers have thrived on defensive play this year. However, they played a sloppy game on Sunday, giving away the puck at an untenable rate. When you’re only scoring 2.6 goals a game, tight puck protection is the key to accumulating victory.
Ashton Rome menaced his former team on Saturday, getting aggressive with multiple Monarchs players throughout the night. Though he never dropped the gloves, he was trying to get his team motivated after falling behind so quickly. Worth noting: he was a scratch on Sunday.
Speaking of scratches, Hamilton was scratched on Sunday after being called up to Springfield. Tony Turgeon and Francois Beauchemin have also been called to the AHL squad.
Everyone had the day off Monday, but the Wheeling Nailers and Adirondack Thunder face off Tuesday night. Both teams are two points behind the Monarchs in a tie for second, so whoever wins will enter a tie for the top of the North. The Monarchs face the Thunder on the 18th at SNHU Arena.
But first, the Monarchs are in action on Wednesday morning against the Reading Royals. Puck drop is at 10 AM for Education Day.