AHL: Andreoff and Berube not enough, Monarchs fall to worst team in East

Game report provided by the Monarchs, LA Kings’ AHL affiliate…

BRIDGEPORT, CT – The Manchester Monarchs dropped their first game in December with a 3-2 decision going to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Webster Bank Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Manchester (15-4-1-3) leads the Atlantic Division with 34 points. Bridgeport (6-10-1-3) is ranked fifth in the Northeast Division with 16 points.

“We had a rough outing this afternoon and Bridgeport out-competed us for the win,” said Head Coach Mark Morris. “They came up big when it mattered. Give them credit, they gave up eight goals last night and they came ready to play. We took too many penalties early on, mostly stick and reaching infractions which indicates we didn’t skate the way we need to. Poor discipline on our part led to killing penalties and that zaps your strength and causes lots of needless stress. When we had some opportunities to bury the puck, we were unable to execute. This week, we’ll be doing plenty of conditioning to build up our endurance so we become more mentally prepared for three-in-three’s. We let this one slip away; we can’t be satisfied with that. It’s back to work for our Monarchs.”

The Sound Tigers took a 3-2 lead at the 14-minute mark of the third period with right wing Nick Larson’s fourth goal of the season. Left wing Mike Halmo was battling for the puck in the right wing corner with a Monarchs player before he found Larson in the right wing face-off circle. Larson picked up the pass and flipped a backhander into the net. Center Ryan Strome picked up his second point of the night with an assist on the game-winning goal.

The scoreless tie was finally broken at 7:57 of the second period with Halmo’s eighth goal of the season. The Sound Tigers sent the puck deep into the Monarchs zone and Manchester attempted to clear up the left wing wall. Halmo battled with right wing Brandon Kozon along the half wall and came away with the puck. With a clear shot to the net, Halmo let a shot go that beat Monarchs netminder J.F. Berube on his blocker side.

Right wing A.J. Gale tied the game at 1-1 at 14:29 of the middle frame with his first American Hockey League goal. Center Robbie Czarnik jumped to keep the puck inside the Sound Tigers’ zone at the left point. Czarnik sent the puck down the boards to Gale who carried it into the left face-off circle. Gale snapped a wrist shot on net that snuck between netminder Kenny Reiter and the left goal post for his first tally of the season.

Left wing Andy Andreoff gave the Monarchs a 2-1 advantage at 3:12 of the third period with his fourth goal of the season. Defenseman Vincent LoVerde blasted a one-timer from the high slot that Reiter made the pad save on and directed the rebound to the left face-off circle. Andreoff was in the circle to wrist a shot back on net but was denied. With players swarming the net, Andreoff swiped at the puck a couple more times before he was able to flip a backhand shot into the net. Right wing Sean Backman also picked up an assist against his former team.

Just over a minute later, the Sound Tigers tied the game at 2-2 at 4:33 of the final stanza. Left wing Anders Lee carried the puck down the right wing and into the Monarchs zone. Lee dropped a pass back to Strome just high of the right face-off circle. Strome picked up the pass and wristed a shot through Berube for his seventh goal of the season. Defenseman Dallas Jackson also earned an assist on the tying goal.

Berube (6-3-1) took his third loss of the season stopping 29-of-32 shots. Reiter (3-4-2) earned his third win of the season making 29 saves on 31 shots.

Manchester was 0-for-5 on the power play. Bridgeport also went 0-for-5 with the man advantage.

Notables: The Monarchs collected four-of-six points in three games this weekend…Manchester is 1-1-0-0 against Bridgeport this season…The Monarchs are 1-for-18 on the power play in their last six games…Right wing A.J. Gale scored his first American Hockey League goal…Defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk ranks second in the AHL with a plus/minus rating of plus-15.

The Monarchs next travel to Providence for a game against the Bruins on Friday, December 6.

Follow @AndyTonge1 for more Monarchs news and notes.

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