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MANCHESTER, NH – After struggling through January, the Monarchs ended up on a high note with a win over the Brampton Beast Wednesday night at SNHU Arena.

The Monarchs (26-15-3-1) were outshot by over double by Brampton (17-19-4-3), at a rate of 41-20 in favor of the Beast. However, a stalwart effort by the returned starter Charles Williams, as well as a rough night for Brampton keeper Andrew D’Agostini, helped to propel the Manchester squad to victory, allowing them to retake sole possession of first place in the North Division.

Brampton broke the scoring seal at 4:01 of the first period. After picking off a pass by d-man Justin Agosta, the Beast’s David Ling made a move on net, juking out Williams before dropping the pass to Vincent Dunn, who took advantage of the open side of the net and put Brampton up 1-0.

The Monarchs would draw even at 8:36 of the first. It would be team goals leader Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman who would pick up the pass from Francois Beauchemin through traffic, taking a wrist shot that beat D’Agostini to make it a 1-1 tie.

The Monarchs would make it 2-1 at 11:53 of the first on a lucky bounce. Spencer Watson was skating along the boards to the left of D’Agostini when he attempted a centering pass toward linemate Matt Marcinew. The pass would deflect off of a Brampton defender and between the legs of D’Agostini instead of finding its target to give the Monarchs the lead.

But Brampton would tie things up at 12:44 of the first, when former Monarch Daniel Ciampini found his third goal of the season. The Beast moved the puck skillfully through the Monarchs’ defensive zone, with smooth passes between David Vallorani and Scott Jacklin putting Williams out of position. Jacklin would find Ciampini behind Williams, and the winger would put the wrist shot in to make it 2-2.

The final goal of the first would come at the hands of Beauchemin at 16:23. Craig Wyszomirski found a streaking Beauchemin in the neutral zone, setting him up on the breakaway. Francois would take full advantage of the opportunity, beating D’Agostini through the five-hole and making it 3-2 Monarchs at the break.

Brampton would level things up once again just 27 seconds into the second. It would be Dunn returning to the score sheet for seconds, taking a wide open pass in the slot from Reggie Traccito and beating Williams on the glove side to make it three apiece.

But the Monarchs would find the lead for good at 4:20 of the second, on a goal by captain David Kolomatis. Taking a faceoff on the power-play, the Monarchs would win on the stick of Marcinew, who fed it to Kolomatis. Kolo took a wrister through bodies that beat D’Agostini over the glove to make it 4-3 Monarchs.

They would put the capper on at 7:19 of the third, when Matt Schmalz picked up a Beast rebound in the defensive end and charged down the ice. Making a move across the crease, he backhanded the puck past D’Agostini to set the score at 5-3, and there it would stay.

The Takeaway – It’s hard to complain about a five-goal victory, but here goes anyway: this game was not as good for the Monarchs as the score would indicate. Being outshot by 21 by a team as offensively weak as Brampton has been this season is not a good look.

It was quite fortunate that Williams was playing at the top of his game because this one could have gotten out of hand in a hurry.

On top of that, no team can really expect to score five goals in 20 shots very often. Maybe it was the break throwing everyone’s rhythm off; maybe they came out underestimating Brampton, perhaps it was bad sushi. Whatever happened, it can’t happen too often if the Monarchs expect to keep the lead in the North.

Okay, so now that that’s over: there were plenty of bright spots to be had here, too. The Monarchs played an incredibly disciplined game, allowing only two power-plays for the Beast. Conversely, they went 1-for-3 on the PP, marking their 39th goal on the man advantage on the year. That’s good enough for third place in the league in total, and 10th in the league in percentage. For a team that had struggled early on with their power-play, that’s quite a turnaround. Team play also looked good on the night, with 11 different Monarchs picking up a point on the night (including Williams). When opportunities are as few and far between as they were during this game (case in point: after Carmine Guerriero came on to spell D’Agostini, he faced only two shots in nearly ten minutes,) good puck movement and teamwork will win the day.

Notes – Ciampini played 28 games for the Monarchs last season, racking up 12 goals and 16 assists. He also saw time in Ontario with the Reign that year. This year, he’s split time between the AHL’s Belleville Senators and the Beast. He has three goals and 10 assists in 14 games with Brampton this year.

Matt O’Connor was on hand to back up Williams. Property of the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL, O’Connor finds himself on his third ECHL team this season, having spent time with the Atlanta Gladiators and Quad City Mallards previously. He currently sports a 4.51 GAA and .869 save percentage in 9 starts, with a record of 0-8-1.

The Monarchs return to action at the SNHU against the Beast on Friday night. Puck drops at 7 pm EST.

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