One Tough Loss
NORFOLK, VA – The Manchester Monarchs mounted a third period comeback with two goals but could not convert on the equalizer as they fell to the Norfolk Admirals, 3-2, in Game 1 of the best-of-five series in the 2012 Calder Cup Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at the Norfolk Scope on Friday night.
“We made it close with a big push in the third,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “We won more loose pucks and generated chances because we skated and got our noses dirty. Norfolk had great success on their power play while we were ineffective in that department. We scrambled our line combinations and made a goaltending change to get some chemistry. It seemed to give us some life. Rich Clune started the comeback with a gutsy fight against a much bigger (Pierre-Cedric) Labrie. The scrap ignited some emotion and the bench followed suit. Make no mistake, Norfolk is a great team and we had them sweating buckets. We hope to build on the strong effort we ended the game with tomorrow.”
The Admirals scored their second power play goal just 1:57 after their first when center Trevor Smith saw the puck deflect of his skate and go into the back of the net at 3:39 of the middle stanza. Defenseman Evan Oberg carried the puck down the left wing before firing a centering pass from the bottom of the left wing face-off circle. Oberg’s centering pass bounced off Smith’s right skate and slid past Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff’s left pad and over the goal line for his first tally of the playoffs. Defenseman Mike Kostka picked up an assist on the Admirals eventual game-winning tally.
The Admirals took an early first period lead with a goal by defenseman Mark Barberio at 6:39. Left wing Alexandre Picard won a face-off in the left wing circle back to Barberio stationed between the left and center points. Barberio one-timed the puck high on the glove side of Zatkoff for his first goal of the playoffs.
Picard gave the Admirals a 2-0 lead on the power play at 1:42 of the second period. Left wing Cory Conacher possessed the puck at the right point before carrying the puck into the right wing face-off circle. Conacher fed Smith along the end red line to the right of the Monarchs cage. Smith quickly threw a pass in the slot for Picard to redirect into the back of the net for his first goal of the playoffs.
Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones replaced Zatkoff in net following the Admirals third goal.
The Monarchs got on the scoreboard with a shorthanded tally by right wing Stefan Legein at 9:53 of the third period. Center Justin Azevedo chased the puck along the left wing boards in the Monarchs zone and managed to poke it out of the zone. Legein tracked down the loose puck and carried it down the right wing boards with speed before firing a slap shot from the right wing half wall. Legein’s shot beat Admirals netminder Jaroslav Janus on the blocker side for his first career playoff goal.
Center Marc-Andre Cliche pulled the Monarchs to within one goal at 13:57 of the final period. Cliche won the draw in the left face-off circle and Legein played the puck back to defenseman Patrick Mullen at the left point. Mullen fed defenseman Thomas Hickey at the center point for a one-timer which Cliche redirected past Janus for his first goal of the playoffs and to bring the score to 3-2.
Zatkoff (0-1) took his first loss of the post-season, stopping 10-of-13 shots. Jones (0-0) entered the game in the second period and made 19 saves on 19 shots. Janus (1-0) earned his first victory of the playoffs making 27 saves on 29 shots.
Manchester went 0-for-7 on the power play. Norfolk was 2-for-6 with the man advantage.
Notables: This is the first playoffs series between the Norfolk Admirals and the Manchester Monarchs…Right wing Stefan Legein scored his first AHL post-season goal, a shorthanded tally…Admirals netminder Jarsoslav Janus had his shutout attempt broken up in the third period on Legein’s goal at 9:53 of the final frame.
The Monarchs and Admirals play Game 2 of the 2012 Calder Cup Eastern Conference Quarterfinals best-of-five series at 7:15 p.m. at the Norfolk Scope on Saturday, April 21. Catch all the play-by-play action of Monarchs hockey with Ken Cail on the Monarchs Radio Network WGIR, WGIR.com and at www.manchestermonarchs.com, presented by Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.