GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – First place in the ECHL’s North Division was up for grabs Friday night when the Manchester Monarchs visited the Adirondack Thunder. If the Monarchs won, they would clinch the division. If the Thunder won, they would move into first place and would increase their chances of finishing the regular season as the division’s top seed.
Adirondack’s Shane Conacher opened the scoring at 7:53 of the first period. Conor Riley passed to defensive partner Aaron Titcomb, who put the initial shot on net. Manchester goaltender Charles Williams made the save, but Conacher put home the rebound. For Titcomb, it was his first pro point in his first pro game.
The Monarchs battled back to tie it up just over six minutes later. Matt Marcinew fired the initial shot on Thunder goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood but was denied. Jared Kolquist picked up the rebound and threw a second shot toward the net. Spencer Watson skated in from behind the net to whack it in. The period ended in a 1-1 tie.
The Thunder dominated the second period with two goals 1:12 apart. Adirondack was given a great opportunity following a scrum behind the Manchester net that resulted in a major penalty and game misconduct for Monarchs forward Ashton Rome. Thunder forward Troy Bourke received two minutes for slashing. With the teams playing 4-on-4, the Thunder were able to regain their lead. Brian Ward skated the length of the ice and passed the puck to Matthew Spencer, who was able to tap it in easily.
Bourke’s penalty expired, and the Thunder would have a full three minutes on the power play. It took only six seconds for the Thunder to capitalize. Manchester’s Rob Hamilton passed the puck directly to Adirondack forward Paul Rodrigues right in front of the Monarchs net. Rodrigues fired it past Williams for the 3-1 lead.
The score would hold until late in the game, but Manchester never gave up. The Monarchs peppered Blackwood with 17 shots in the third period, for a total of 39 in the game. With Williams off for an extra attacker, Cory Ward was able to pull his team to within one. David Kolomatis took the initial shot from the blue line, and the puck took several deflections before going in. With three Monarchs directly in front of the net, it was nearly impossible for Blackwood to keep the puck out. The Thunder were able to hold off the Monarchs for the remainder of the game.
With the victory, the Thunder moved into sole possession of first place in the division. The Reading Royals have clinched third place, while the Worcester Railers are locked in at fourth. First place will not be clinched until Sunday, when both Adirondack and Manchester complete their seasons. The Thunder next face off against the Brampton Beast on Sunday afternoon.
The Thunder gave out their annual end-of-season awards Friday night. Defenseman of the year went to Desmond Bergin. Goaltender Drew Fielding was named the unsung hero. James Henry was the most active in community service. The fans voted rookie Tim Harrison as their favorite. Brian Ward was named team MVP.
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