Monarchs All-Star Struck
PORTLAND, ME – The Manchester Monarchs could not overcome two first period goals as they fell to the Portland Pirates, 3-1, in game eight of the VIP Cup, presented by VIP Parts, Tires and Service, at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Saturday night. The rivalry series is tied 4-4.
Manchester (21-19-2-2) ranks second in the Atlantic Division with 46 points. Portland (25-16-1-1) leads the Atlantic Division with 52 points.
“Portland was sharp tonight,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “We had a rough opening shift and they capitalized right away. We batted hard but they didn’t give us much.”
Portland opened up a 2-0 lead with a goal by left wing Darian Dziurzynski at 1:53 of the first period. Center Ethan Werek poked the puck free from a scrum along the end boards. Dziurzynski took the puck off the end boards and tried to jam it in at the left doorstep but the shot produced a rebound in front of the net. Dziurzynski followed the rebound and wrested a shot past Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones for the eventual game-winning goal. Dziurznski’s fifth goal of the season was also assisted by right wing Brett Hextall.
The Pirates opened the scoring just 27 seconds into the game with a goal by defenseman Chris Summers. Right wing Jordan Szwarz took a feed from defenseman Brandon Gormley before skating inside the right wing face-off circle. Szwarz played the puck to Summer in between the top of the face-off circles. Summer wrested a shot midway up on the glove side beating Jones for his second goal of the season.
The Monarchs scored their first goal of the game off the stick of right wing Tyler Toffoli at 19:58 of the first period. Center Jordan Weal won a loose puck battle at the right point in the Monarchs zone. Weal fed Toffoli a pass leading him in on a breakaway. Toffoli skated to the slot before wristing a goal past Pirates netminder Mike Lee high on the glove side. Toffoli’s 20th goal of the season was also assisted by left wing Tanner Pearson.
The Pirates opened up a 3-1 lead with a 4-on-3 power play goal at 14:26 of the second period with a tally from right wing Chris Conner. Left wing Rob Klinkhammer fed center Andy Miele at the center point. Miele skated inside the left wing face-off circle before finding Conner in the right wing face-off circle. Conner one-timed Miele’s pass blasting the shot into the back of the net for his eighth goal of the season.
Jones (11-14-2) took his 14th loss of the season making 27 saves on 30 shots. Lee (2-0-0) earned his second victory of the season stopping 31-of-32 shots.
Manchester went 0-for-5 on the power play. Portland went 1-for-3 with the man advantage.
Notables: The Monarchs are 1-2-0-0 in games versus Portland on the road and 3-1-0-0 against the Pirates at the Verizon Wireless Arena this season…Monarchs center Jordan Weal has two goals and an assist in his last to VIP Cup games…Monarchs right wing Tyler Toffoli has nine goals in eight VIP Cup games this season which leads all VIP Cup skaters.
The Monarchs continue their road trip after the 2013 Dunkin’ Donuts AHL All-Star Classic as the travel to play the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Friday, February 1 at 7:05 p.m. Catch all the play-by-play action of Monarchs hockey with Ken Cail on the Monarchs Radio Network WGIR 610 AM, WGIR.com and at www.manchestermonarchs.com, presented by Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.