MANCHESTER, NH – The Newfoundland Growlers and Manchester Monarchs continued their North Division final series Tuesday in New Hampshire. The two teams had entered the night tied at one game apiece, with Manchester winning game one by a score of 3-2, and Newfoundland taking game two 4-2.
The Growlers got on the board first when Giorgio Estephan picked up his second goal of the postseason late in the opening frame. Sam Jardine had taken a shot from the blue line and Estephan tipped the puck past Monarchs goaltender Charles Williams. Newfoundland closed out the first with a 1-0 lead.
The Growlers added to their lead at 5:36 of the second period. Defenseman Kristians Rubins stole the puck in his own zone and skated up the ice with it. He passed to Josh Kestner on his left, who then passed cross-ice to Scott Pooley. Pooley was able to beat Williams glove-side for his fourth goal of the playoffs. Neither team scored in the remainder of the middle frame, and the Growlers took a 2-0 lead into the final period.
Matt Bradley gave the Growlers a three-goal lead at 7:29 of the third when Derian Plouffe cleared the puck up the boards into the neutral zone. J.J. Piccinich picked it up and passed it to Bradley skating up the middle, who fired it past Williams for his first pro playoff goal.
The Monarchs were able to get one back late in the third period. Defenseman Craig Wyszomirski passed the puck up the ice to Pavel Jenys, who threw the puck toward the net. Kevin Dufour was able to get his stick on it and deflect it past Growlers goaltender Michael Garteig, ending his shutout bid.
Less than a minute later, Newfoundland regained its three-goal lead. With Williams pulled for an extra attacker, Brady Ferguson passed the puck up to Zach O’Brien, who scored into the empty net.
Manchester didn’t go away quietly however. With fewer than six seconds remaining in the game, Michael Doherty capitalized from a scramble in front of the Newfoundland net. Nic Pierog took a shot from the faceoff circle and Garteig made the initial save, but the rebound found its way to Doherty’s stick and he made it 4-2.
Garteig continued his stellar play, making 39 saves in his sixth victory of the postseason, earning him first star honors. In each of his six wins, the Newfoundland netminder has given up two or fewer goals. Manchester’s Williams has achieved a similar feat, giving up two or fewer goals in each of his five wins.
The Monarchs look to even up the series when the two teams meet again on Wednesday in Manchester for game four. Game five will be played Friday in nearby Exeter, NH. If the Monarchs win either of the next two games, the series will shift back to St. John’s for game six Monday, May 6, and if needed, game seven Tuesday, May 7. The winner of the series will move on to the Eastern Conference finals.