SPRINGFIELD, MA – Goaltender Martin Jones earned his fourth shutout of the season and left wing Ray Kaunisto recorded his first multi-goal game as the Manchester Monarchs blanked the Springfield Falcons, 5-0, at the MassMutual Center on Tuesday night.
Manchester (35-18-2-5, 77 points) remains in first place in the Atlantic Division with 77 points. Springfield (27-26-1-3, 58 points) is ranked fifth in the Atlantic Division with 58 points.
“Tonight was a solid game from start to finish,” explained Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “All four lines were clicking and from the blueline back, the guys moved the puck smartly. We are happy we bounced back nicely from our previous game and the team looked confident throughout the entire three periods.
“Ray Kaunisto had a big day. It’s great to see him play so well. Hopefully we can build on today and carry that confidence into our final push down the stretch.”
At 13:12 of the opening period, center Oscar Moller scored his 16th goal of the season to give the Monarchs a 1-0 lead. Moller stole the puck from the Falcons in Manchester’s zone and skated the length of the ice down the right wing. With center Andrei Loktionov skated along side him on a 2-on-1, Moller roofed the puck past netminder Gustaf Wesslau.
The Monarchs doubled their lead at 17:50 of the first frame with right wing Brandon Kozun’s 17th tally of the season. Defenseman Colten Teubert kept the puck in the Falcons zone and right wing John Zeiler collected it behind the cage. Zeiler found Kozun in the left corner. The rookie winger carried the puck around the left face-off circle and into the high slot where he wristed a shot that beat Wesslau on his blocker side to give the Monarchs a 2-0 lead.
Kaunisto capitalized on his sixth goal of the season at 2:45 of the second period. Center Jordan Nolan passed the puck up the ice to left wing Richard Clune who snapped a wrist shot on net from just inside the right face-off circle. Wesslau made the pad save on Clune’s shot but the rebound popped free in the slot for Kaunisto to one-time into the back of the net.
The Monarchs brought the score to 4-0 at 9:41 of the middle stanza with defenseman David Kolomatis’ sixth tally of the season. Battling in the Falcons zone, left wing Dwight King freed the puck in the right corner for left wing Bud Holloway who fought off the opposition along the right wing half wall. Holloway freed himself and the puck before sending a pass to the right point for Kolomatis to rip a slap shot that snuck just inside the right post for the four goal lead.
Goaltender David LeNeveu replaced Wesslau between the pipes for Springfield for the final period.
Kaunisto picked up his second goal of the night and seventh tally of the season at 17:42 of the final frame to give the Monarchs a 5-0 final. Skating on the power play, Zeiler fed the puck to Clune along the end boards. Clune sent a pass into the slot for Kaunisto who fired a one-timer into the back of the net.
Jones (21-7-1) picked up his fourth shutout and won his 21st game of the season, stopping all 16 shots on goal. Wesslau (12-12-1) took his 12th loss of the season with 15 saves on 19 shots before being replaced by LeNeveu (13-13-2) who stopped 12-of-13 shots in the third period.
Manchester was 1-for-2 on the power play. Springfield was 0-for-5 with the man advantage.
Notables: Goaltender Martin Jones recorded his fourth shutout of the season…Left wing Ray Kaunisto collected his first multi-goal game as he scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season…Left wing Dwight King’s five-game goal scoring streak came to an end…Right wing Brandon Kozun has six goals and nine points (6-3=9) in his last six games.
The Monarchs host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday, February 25 at 7:00 p.m. The first 2,000 kids, 12 and under, to Friday’s game will receive a “Fun to the MAX” 3D Picture Frame, courtesy of St. Mary’s Bank. Catch all 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.