MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Monarchs found themselves on the wrong end of a prolific goalie performance last night, as they fell to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits 4-1 at the SNHU Arena.
It was the second game of back-to-back homers against Greenville, and after winning the first tilt in decisive fashion 5-2, the offense came back riding high on Saturday night. However, they weren’t counting on the resistance they would face from former Monarch Ty Rimmer, who stole the show and the game.
Rimmer, who came into the matchup with a 6.10 GAA, stonewalled the Monarchs on 50 of their 51 attempts. The Greenville offensive attack was no slouch either, living up to their reputations after a low-energy Friday game.
Greenville came out of the gate slowly, with only five shots in the first period to the Monarchs’ 15. However, they cracked the scoring open at 14:44 of the second period when scoring leader Adam Chapie received a pass from Brenden Kotyk at the top of the left wing circle and loosed the shot that beat the Monarchs’ Evan Cowley to give Greenville their first lead of the weekend at 1-0.
The lead held until 2:29 of the second period when Manchester winger Sam Kurker tallied his second goal of the season. Kurker and linemate Cory Ward started an odd-man rush, bearing down on Rimmer. Ward took the initial shot, which Rimmer stopped, but Kurker picked up the rebound and whacked it by the Swamp Rabbits’ tender to draw the Monarchs even at 1-1.
That would be the high point of the evening for Manchester. The Swamp Rabbits found the lead again just 19 seconds later when forward Jack Nevins set up Austin McKay in front of the Monarchs’ net, who nudged it by Cowley to make it 2-1. It was McKay’s first of the year.
Allan McPherson would double that lead after a heads-up shot block, breaking away from the pack and wristing the puck past Cowley’s glove at 6:57 of the third period, making the score 3-1 in favor of the visitors.
The Swamp Rabbits extended their lead at 10:06 of the third when Joe Houk took a shot from Cowley’s right side which took a bounce to the goaltender’s left and found a waiting Curt Gogol, who buried the puck to seal the victory for Greenville 4-1.
Greenville moved to 2-3-1-0 on the year, while the Monarchs find themselves at 3-3-0-1.
It’s hard to look at a 50-save game by Rimmer and put too much blame on the Monarchs, but there were a few troubling issues that arose. The first was discipline. At one point, three Monarchs were sitting in the penalty box, giving the Swamp Rabbits’ vaunted power play ample opportunity to find the net. All told, Manchester gave Greenville eight power plays on the night, of which they uncharacteristically only converted on one. Yes, this means the Monarchs’ penalty kill held on 12 out of 13 on the weekend, but 13 penalties in two games is an unsustainable pace. Secondly, and not to beat a dead horse, but the Monarchs’ power play continued to be DOA, going 0-for-5 on the night. They now sit at 9.5%, good for 23rd in the ECHL. Finally, while it’s not quite time to panic just yet, the play of Cowley has to be giving coaches Richard Seeley and Jeff Giuliano pause. In three games for the Monarchs, Cowley has been disturbingly beatable, going 0-2-0-1 with a 4.26 GAA and .876 sv%. The Panthers prospect is only 22, so he has room to grow, but that doesn’t bode well for a team that needs a reliable backup behind fellow rookie Charles Williams. Williams himself took a couple of starts to find his rhythm, and maybe Cowley will as well. But keep an eye on it.
As noted, Rimmer started the game with a 6.10 GAA. He ended it with a 3.72. His 50 saves also helped drag his GAA to a respectable .921.
Justin Agosta picked up his first point of the season on Kurker’s goal, credited with the secondary assist. He is well off of his pace of .67 points-per-game from last season.
After a particularly aggressive night one, Gogol was relatively calm last night, choosing to cause pain on the scoreboard instead. The goal was number two on the year for the winger, who only had six in 37 games for the Florida Everblades last season.
Next up: the Norfolk Admirals (2-5-0-0) for three games at Norfolk Scope. The Nashville Predators’ affiliate is coming off of four straight losses, and present an opportunity for the Monarchs to right the ship. The series opener with Norfolk is November 1st at 7:00 pm ET.