NORFOLK, VA – Forward Matt Marcinew was the story of the game as the Manchester Monarchs moved into sole possession of first place in the North Division last night after downing the Norfolk Admirals for the second straight game with a score of 4-1.
The Monarchs (5-3-0-1) continued their furious offensive assault as of late, setting a new high water mark for the season with 52 shots on goal. For their part, Norfolk (2-7-0-0) found a bit more energy on both ends of the ice, but they couldn’t find an answer for Monarchs’ tender Evan Cowley, who had his best showing of the season.
Norfolk got things off to a fast start, taking their first lead of the series after only 36 seconds. Taking the puck from center Brady Vail in his own end, winger Tommy Schutt came down along the boards into the Monarchs end, wristing a shot from the right-wing circle that beat Cowley up top to make the score 1-0 Admirals.
This would hold until 17:42 of the second period when Marcinew began his scoring glut. After winger Kevin Morris broke the puck free from in front of Admirals goalie Jake Paterson, Marcinew pounced on the loose puck and whacked it by Paterson to draw the Monarchs even, 1-1. This would be the first of two power play goals for Manchester.
Marcinew would make it a brace of goals at 1:33 of the third. Joel Lowry took a shot off the face-off which was deflected by Paterson, only to find Marcinew in the slot. Marcinew capitalized on the rebound opportunity, beating Paterson and putting the Monarchs in the lead at 2-1.
It would become 3-1 at 12:28 of the third when Marcinew decided to share the wealth. After the Admirals fumbled the puck in their defensive zone, Marcinew fired the puck toward the net, where it found the ready stick of Tony Cameranesi and angled into the cage behind Paterson.
The fourth and final goal would come at 18:52 of the final period, when Marcinew picked up his fourth point of the night. Marcinew passed the puck to defenseman Colton Saucerman, who took the point shot from the left side. Saucerman’s shot found Morris in front, who finished off the tip-in goal to seal the deal for Manchester, 4-1.
The win put the Monarchs in first place in the division with 11 points, though second-place Wheeling have two games in hand, only trailing by one point. Third-place Worcester also holds two games and have 9 points. All-in-all, the North is still incredibly tight. It looks as if every point is going to count this season.
The Monarchs managed to somehow increase their already ridiculous shots-per-game average after setting a new season high Friday night. The Admirals’ Paterson weathered the storm a bit more handily than he had Wednesday, but it was not meant to be. Cowley found his first win of the campaign in a 26-save effort, having recovered quite well after an early setback. The Monarchs played solid hockey on both ends of the ice as the team is certainly jelling as the season progresses. The power-play also continued to improve, having gone 2/5 on the night. They are 5/12 against Norfolk, whose penalty kill is third-worst in the league. The Monarchs took a few too many penalties, but that’s more of a nitpick against a team that is doing almost everything right this week.
Marcinew’s four points in only his sixth ECHL game show a lot of promise for the rookie forward, who has six points in those six games.
For those keeping track, shots-per-game are now up to 40.8. In their last four, the Monarchs have taken 190 shots at opposing goaltenders.
The Monarchs have killed off their last twelve penalties, and sit at tenth in the league with an 88.6 PK%. This will certainly translate into more wins if it continues, though PK isn’t everything; the Wheeling Nailers are 4-1-2-0 with the worst PK% in the league (the league-best 36.1% conversion rate on the power-play doesn’t hurt one bit). For their part, Manchester’s power-play has improved to 16.7%. Getting better, but there’s room to grow.
Not to be outshone, Morris and Cameranesi have three points each in the two games against Norfolk so far. Cameranesi has moved into a tie for the team points lead with Lowry.
One would be forgiven for thinking there was a little home cooking going on with the three star selection Friday night as Paterson (.920 SV%) got the nod over Cowley (.960 SV%) and Schutt (1 G/0 A) got the call over Morris and Cameranesi (1 G/1 A apiece), not that these things matter.
The Monarchs invade the Scope one more time tonight at 7 pm, where they look to put together their first three-game streak of the young season. Norfolk will look to stop their own six-game losing streak.
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