MANCHESTER, NH – The Cincinnati Cyclones closed out a three-in-three series in New England against the Manchester Monarchs on Sunday afternoon. After Manchester took game one on Friday by a 7-3 score, and Cincinnati taking game two 4-2, it was going to be a battle of wills. Being the third game in three days for both squads, this game was going to come down to whoever had more gas left in the tank as fatigue slowly crept its way in.
Cincinnati would get things rolling 12:48 into the opening frame. Gabryel Boudreau would put on a nifty toe drag around a Manchester defenseman, and deposit the puck through the five-hole of Monarchs goaltender, Sam Brittain, for his first professional goal to make it 1-0 Cincinnati.
On the very next shift, Manchester would answer the bell. Justin Agosta would score his second goal of the weekend with a bomb from the blue line that got through traffic and past Cincinnati netminder, Michael Houser, to even things up at 1-1 heading into the first intermission.
From there on out, it would be all Manchester. Just 4:16 into the middle stanza, Cory Ward would get the go-ahead goal for the Monarchs. Tony Turgeon was behind the net with the puck while Ward was camped out in front of the crease. Turgeon got the puck to Ward, and he was able to tap it in to make it 2-1 Monarchs.
In similar fashion to their second goal, the Monarchs would draw up an identical play to go up by a pair. This time in the form of Joe Diamond, he was camped out in front of Houser and tapped in a centering pass to make it 3-1 Manchester heading into the third period.
Late in regulation, another rookie would get his first professional goal to pull Cincinnati within one. Rob De Fulviis would snipe a shot top shelf past Brittain to cut the Manchester lead to 3-2, making things interesting. However, it would not be enough as Gasper Kopitar would bury an empty net goal to seal the deal as Manchester would walk out with a 4-2 win, taking two of three from Cincinnati on the weekend.
Although it was a “questionable” decision for Cincinnati to start Michael Houser in goal after Mark Visentin was phenomenal between the pipes on Saturday, Houser did fairly well after getting yanked from the game after 20 minutes on Friday. None of the goals can be faulted on him and he was able to make the big stop when they needed him to.
As a whole, the past two games were some of the best hockey the Cyclones have played in this young season. The effort was there, however, Manchester is just a really, really good team. I was thoroughly impressed with the Monarchs throughout this entire weekend series. Would even classify them as the best team the Cyclones have faced so far. Yes, even better than Indy. That being said, it’s a good thing this was the last Cincinnati will see of Manchester, at least in the regular season.
The Cyclones will have a couple days off as they make the trek back to southwestern Ohio to prepare for a pair of home games against two familiar foes in the Fort Wayne Komets on Wednesday night, and the Quad City Mallards on Thursday night.