MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Monarchs reached their season-high winning streak after beating the Worcester Railers 3-2 at the DCU Center on Saturday Night.
The Monarchs (12-7-1-1) have officially bounced back from their previous streak, a four-game downer which included two losses against the Railers (8-8-2-1.) After a long break, the Monarchs looked fairly fresh against Worcester, who themselves were coming off of a Friday night loss to the Adirondack Thunder.
The Railers would start the scoring, however, at 4:22 of the first period. Barry Almeida began with the puck behind the Monarchs’ net and found T.J. Syner in front, who put it home under the leg of Monarchs’ starting goaltender Charles Williams to make it 1-0 Railers.
The Monarchs would strike back at 16:54 of the first when Kevin Morris tallied the first of three power-play goals for the Manchester squad. Colton Saucerman received the pass from Tony Cameranesi at the blue line and slapped the puck toward the net. Morris, hovering around the net, redirected the shot past Railers’ tender Eamon McAdam to draw it even at 1-1.
The Monarchs would pull ahead 2-1 at 11:56 of the middle frame, yet again on the power-play. Spencer Watson would be the one to take the shot this time, sending it toward the net from the right side and finding Joel Lowry waiting in front, who tipped the puck by McAdam for his team-leading 20th point of the season.
It would be 3-1 at 10:43 of the third when Matt Leitner would pick up his second point of the night. Set up on the power-play to the left of McAdam, Leitner received the puck from David Kolomatis and wristed the puck by the Railer’s keeper to put the lead at two for the visitors.
The Railers would make things interesting at 17:51 with McAdam pulled. Finding the puck unattended in the slot, Chris Langkow swooped in and whacked the puck past a lunging Williams to make it 3-2. Despite continued pressure, the Railers would fail to tie the game and would fall to the Monarchs for the third time this year.
The Takeaway – Any questions about the Monarchs’ heart after their skid should officially be answered at this point. Whatever coaches Rich Seeley and Jeff Giuliano did to remotivate this squad, it worked. The power-play looked as good as it ever has, with all three goals coming a man up and the penalty kill finishing with a clean sheet. Williams was once again stalwart in net, stopping 32 out of 34. Cameranesi, Lowry, and Morris continue to drive the offense, with Tony, in particular, picking up right where he left out before his injury. The one real negative: the Railers once again held the Monarchs to a below-average shot total, a pattern that the Monarchs will have to break if they want to be successful against Worcester going forward. With another long stretch of inactivity before a three-game homestand, the Monarchs have a little fine-tuning to do, with plenty of time to do it.
Notes – Lowry is now outstripping his scoring pace from any season since his days in junior hockey. The breakout performance has been a real boost for the Monarchs, who lost some key offensive pieces in the offseason. The emergence of Morris and Zac Lynch has also been just what Manchester has needed. All three of these guys are having career performances.
Watson has also been a boon to the team since arriving for the Utah trip. Though it seemed like he might be returning to Ontario after the Grizzlies series, he was sent back to the Monarchs in time for the game against Worcester. In four games with Manchester, he’s had three assists and a game-winning shootout goal.
Williams won his 8th game Saturday night and his 2.14 goals-against average trails only the Colorado Eagles’ Joe Cannata for best in the ECHL. His save percentage, a wicked .933, trails only the Indy Fuel’s Etienne Marcoux, who has also played four fewer games than Williams. Though it’s still quite early, the Monarchs’ starter is making a case for Goaltender of the Year.
Two of the next three will be against Norfolk, who are looking like a team without a country after their affiliation with the Nashville Predators suddenly ended. The struggling Admirals are actually on a bit of an upswing, sitting on a three-game winning streak for the first time this season. They’ll play the Adirondack Thunder between tilts with the Monarchs, before five straight against the Orlando Solar Bears. The Monarchs play the visiting Reading Royals on the odd day.
The first contest against Norfolk comes on December 8th, when the Monarchs will hold their annual Teddy Bear Toss. Puck drops at 7:00 pm.