Thrice On Ice Is Nice
MANCHESTER, NH – Left wing Bud Holloway recorded his first American Hockey League hat trick as the Manchester Monarchs defeated the Portland Pirates, 4-3, at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday evening.
Manchester (18-11-1-1) won their 18th game of the season, regaining sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division with 38 points. Portland (17-9-1-1) falls into a tie for second place in the Atlantic Division with the Worcester Sharks (15-8-2-4), who lost in overtime to the Connecticut Whale (14-11-2-4), forcing the second place tie among 36 point teams.
“Our effort was vastly improved from where we were last game,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “(Bud) Holloway had a stellar game for us. (Jeff) Zatkoff made some key saves. Jordan Nolan had his best game. (Andrei) Loktionov was a workhorse tonight. Our penalty kill did a great job. Our guy stopped a barrage of shots at critical times to weather the storm.”
The Monarchs, who had allowed the Pirates to come back to within a goal early in the third period, recovered their two-goal buffer at 2:46 of the third period when center Andrei Loktionov scored his fifth tally of the season on a shorthanded breakaway. Center Jordan Nolan picked up the loose puck in neutral territory, skated down the right wing and into the Pirates zone. Defenseman Drew Schiestel was the only Portland player back and Loktionov skated down the left wing on the rush. Nolan squeaked a pass by Schiestel that Loktionov one-timed from the left face-off circle and into the net behind goaltender Jhonas Enroth.
Holloway scored the Monarchs first goal at 1:23 of the first period. Following a dump into the offensive zone by Manchester, Enroth attempted to corral the puck behind the net. Enroth fumbled with the puck just long enough for Holloway to swoop in and quickly wrap the puck around and into the empty cage for his seventh goal of the season.
Holloway doubled the Monarchs lead with his second goal of the evening at 2:52 of the first period. Deep in the zone, Holloway initiated the play with a pass back to the left point that was settled by defenseman Thomas Hickey. A quick pass to his right connected with center Corey Elkins, positioned high along the right wing half-wall. A powerful blast from the blueline was redirected by Holloway in the goal crease. Holloway’s eighth goal of the season put the Monarchs up 2-0 exiting first period play.
Defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani scored his fifth goal of the season to put Portland on the scoreboard at 9:16 of the second period. Center Luke Adam, positioned behind the net, fed the puck to his right where it was gathered by left wing Derek Whitmore. The forward passed the puck back to the left point where Gragnani took two strides toward the net before firing home the blast. The puck snuck through heavy crease traffic, fooling Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, cutting the Monarchs lead in half, 2-1.
Holloway scored his third goal of the evening at 14:47 of the second period to give the Monarchs the 3-1 lead. Defenseman Patrick Mullen sent a feed down deep into the Manchester zone, where it was gathered by left wing Dwight King. The winger connected with Holloway, positioned behind the Portland cage. A nifty wrap-around maneuver caught Enroth off guard, as he sniped the puck into the top right corner of the net, beating the goaltender and giving himself his first AHL hat trick.
Center Matt Ellis brought the Pirates back to within one goal with his sixth goal of the season only 28 seconds into the third period. Adam sent the puck from behind the Monarchs cage to right wing Mark Mancari in the right corner. Mancari quickly fed a pass to Ellis in the right face-off circle for a blast that beat Zatkoff on his stick side to bring the score to 3-2 in favor of the Monarchs.
Mancari scored his 13th goal of the season at 16:18 of the third period. Adam, skating toward the center of the right face-off dot, dropped a pass back to the point where it was gathered by Gragnani. A quick pass to his left connected with Mancari, who fired a blast into the slot. The shot was redirected by a Monarchs defender standing in the slot, beating Zatkoff and bringing the Pirates back to within a goal.
Zatkoff (10-9-1) recorded his 10th victory of the season, making 32 saves on 35 shots on goal. Enroth (8-7-1) lost his seventh game of the season, halting 22-of-26 shots on goal.
Manchester went 1-for-3 on the power play. Portland was 1-for-8 with the man advantage.
Notables: Left wing Bud Holloway’s three goals give him the Monarchs first hat trick since center Andrei Loktionov scored three goals against the Albany River Rats on October 3, 2009 in a 6-3 victory…The last Monarchs hat trick at the Verizon Wireless Arena was scored by left wing Matt Moulson on February 21, 2009 in a 7-2 win against the Lowell Devils…Holloway’s two first period goals marked the first time all season a Monarchs player has scored more than one goal in one period…Tonight marked Holloway’s third professional hat trick and his first in the American Hockey League…Defenseman Thomas Hickey is in the midst of a four-game point streak, recording a goal and four assists (1-4=5) during that span…Defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov’s three-game point streak (0-4=4) was snapped tonight.
The Monarchs return to action on Saturday, December 18 when they travel to the Cumberland County Civic Center to face-off against the Pirates in their third consecutive contest at 7:00 p.m.. Catch all of the play-by-play action of Monarchs hockey with Ken Cail on the Monarchs Radio Network WGAM 900/1250 AM and at www.manchestermonarchs.com.