AHL: Martin Jones backstops Monarchs to 4-1 win

In hockey, no lineup is safe. Every team must deal with injuries and roster moves throughout the course of the year. This holds true for the Monarchs too, as Tyler Toffoli and Lindey Vey were called up to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. Compounding the losses on offense, defenseman Andrew Campbell was held out of the lineup with an upper body injury after being banged up the previous evening.

Saturday’s contest was the second-half of a home-and-home series against the Providence Bruins.

With Kings GM Dean Lombardi in attendance once again, the Monarchs notched a perfect weekend, winning here by a final score of 4-1.

Judging by the first period, it would have been hard to tell the Monarchs had lost any key players, as they outshot the Bruins 18 to 6. Andy Andreoff started off the scoring at 9:14 of the opening frame. He parked himself next to the net and buried a perfect pass from new linemate Tanner Pearson. Picking up the second assist on the play was Brandon Kozun.

The Monarchs dominated the period overall, with the majority of time spent in the Bruins zone. Former first round draft pick, goaltender Malcolm Subban, kept his team in the game throughout the night, stopping 30 shots total.

Entering the second period, the home team was looking to pad the lead and Manchester did just that, as Sean Backman recorded his second goal of the year. Going to the net, Backman found a rebound and buried it for the 2-0 lead. Derek Forbort’s initial point shot was picked up by Brian O’Neill before Backman finally tallied the goal on his backhand.

Then, with just over a minute left in the middle frame, the Bruins got on the board. Manchester’s rookie defenseman Colin Miller had been summoned to the penalty box for the second time in the game and that’s just the edge Providence needed. Jared Knight fed a perfect pass to the slot, where Seth Griffith banged home the goal. This cut the Monarchs lead in half, leaving them up by a goal heading in to the third period.

The Bruins battled hard in the third, attempting to tie things up. After being badly outshot early on, Providence rallied to eventually tie the count at one point – and came close to tying the game in the process. However, Mark Morris’ club provided a final dagger when O’Neill found a bouncing puck and sprung out on a break. He was interfered with and awarded a penalty shot. Skating in from center ice, he made a nifty move that beat Subban for his second goal of the year.

As the game counted down to the final minute, Kozun found himself with a shot at the empty net, but decided to pass to Nick Deslauriers instead, who scored his easiest goal of the year and ensured the win.

Starting for the 11th time in 12 games, goaltender Martin Jones continued to show why he’s been one of the top goalies in the AHL this season. Calm, cool, and collected in the net, Jones stopped 30 of 31 shots en route to his AHL-leading eighth win of the year.

With three regulars missing from his roster, Morris was forced to shuffle the lines. Pearson remained on the top line, but shifted from left wing to right, with Andreoff taking his original spot and Nick Shore at center. The second line remained intact, reading from left to right, Deslauriers-Jordan Weal-Kozun. The third and fourth lines saw Hunter Bishop-O’Neill-Backman grouped together, along with Scott Sabourin-Robbie Czarnick-Maxim Kitsyn.

Pearson seemingly had no issues with the transition to his off wing. Sometimes, a left shot playing on the right side of the ice can find it difficult to corral pucks, but the 2012 first round draft pick had no such problems. Already ranked as the team’s top prospect, having the versatility to play both wings will certainly aid in his pursuit of playing in the NHL.

The line of Bishop, O’Neill and Backman was solid all night. Aggressive on the forecheck, the trio had many scoring chances and managed to score on two of them. While they may receive little fanfare, all three have been great depth players 12 games into the year.

On defense, the pairings of Andrew Bodnarchuk with Vincent LoVerde, along with a tandem of Collin Miller-Jeff Schultz, remained constant. The one change came with Chris Huxley taking Campbell’s spot alongside Forbort. Huxley was signed to a tryout before the game, as Manchester only had 18 players and thus no one to replace their ailing captain.

Having so few players on the roster gives little room for any injuries or any other roster moves. As such, it’s possible the Monarchs will look to add a player or two to their depth chart if Toffoli, Vey, and Campbell are gone for any extended periods of time.

They’ll have some time to figure it out.  They’re off until next weekend, when they travel to St. Jonh’s for a series against the division rival IceCaps.

For a game recap and video highlights from Friday’s action between the Monarchs and Bruins, click here. Manchester had big nights from Pearson and Weal, plus three fights in the second period.

Follow @AndyTonge1 for more Monarchs news and notes.

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