EXETER, N.H. – The Newfoundland Growlers and Manchester Monarchs faced off Friday in game five of the North Division finals. The teams had to travel a bit for what was a Manchester “home” game. Another event (Monster Jam) was booked at the Monarchs’ home arena (SNHU Arena), so the game was played in nearby Exeter, New Hampshire.
Unlike many of both teams’ previous games, there was no scoring in the opening frame. In all nine of Manchester’s previous playoff games, at least one team had scored in the first. In eight of Newfoundland’s ten previous games, the first goal had come within the first 20 minutes.
Friday’s first goal came at 11:30 of the second period. Monarchs defenseman David Kolomatis skated all the way down the ice from behind his own net, zig-zagging past all four Growlers skaters before scoring his power-play goal.
Newfoundland tied the game just over three minutes later. Zach O’Brien raced Manchester defenseman Brenden Miller into the Monarchs zone and crossed in front of the net before backhanding the puck past Charles Williams.
Neither team scored again in regulation, due mostly to some big saves from both Williams and Growlers netminder Michael Garteig. The two teams headed into overtime knotted at one goal apiece.
It only took until 2:16 of the sudden-death overtime session for the game to be decided. Monarchs defenseman Daniil Miromanov passed the puck from behind the Growlers net straight to forward Pierre-Luc Mercier, who blasted it past Garteig for the win.
Once again, it was a goaltending duel between Garteig and Williams, with both netminders making 30 saves on the night. With both men playing in all of their teams’ postseason games thus far, the outcome of this series may depend on which of them tires first.
The series now shifts back to Newfoundland for game six Monday and, if needed, game seven Tuesday. The teams split the previous two games played at the Mile One Centre in St. John’s, with the Monarchs taking game one by a score of 3-2 and the Growlers winning game two 4-2.