While the Los Angeles Kings continue to struggle to score goals, their primary affiliates – the Manchester Monarchs – know no such troubles.
With a possible roster move impending, Kings general manager Dean Lombardi and assistant general manager Rob Blake both took in Friday’s game, as Manchester met up with the ever-dangerous Binghamton Senators.
The Monarchs, a team that thrives on early goals, found themselves with the lead early thanks to forward Brian O’Neill. Carrying the puck with speed out of his zone, defenseman Derek Forbort fed Jordan Weal in the neutral zone, who carried the puck across Binghamton’s blue line before dishing off to O’Neill. The former Yale Bulldog drove towards the net and released a shot from right in front of Sens goalie Nathan Lawson, beating him for the 1-0 lead.
Later in the period, Tanner Pearson would pick up his team leading 15th goal of the year on a partial break away. As the Sens attempted a point shot, Nick Deslauriers’ stick just got enough of the shot to deflect it into the chest of Pearson, who turned on the jets going the other way. With two defenders closing in on him, Pearson fired a heavy wrister to the far post, extending his team’s lead to two.
The Monarchs lead would be extended to three while shorthanded with under three minutes left in the period. After Linden Vey won a defensive zone faceoff, Pearson picked up the puck and fired it down the ice to kill time. With Lawson behind the net ready to play the puck, it took an odd bounce in front of the net, where Vey fired it into the wide open net.
After dominating the first period, the Monarchs allowed Binghamton chances to get back in the game during the second. Their bend-but-don’t-break defense, paired with a huge save from goalie JF Berube, kept the Sens off the board in the middle period.
Meanwhile, a tremendous shift from Weal and a goal from Chris Huxley made it a 4-0 game. After creating a scoring opportunity that didn’t go in, Weal won the puck battle behind the net and fed a pass to Huxley on the left point. The defenseman, playing his first game back after missing a long period of time with a high-ankle sprain, floated a wrister through traffic to beat the heavily screened Lawson. O’Neill also picked up an assist for his second point of the night.
Just 35 seconds later, AJ Gale would end Lawson’s night and give the Monarchs a 5-0 lead, as his shot from the high slot went in over the glove of the Sens goalie. After Andrew Campbell kept the puck in, Nick Shore won a battle in the offensive corner, then found the wide open Gale for the goal. Andrew Hammond would come in and close out the game in net for the Senators.
With under three minutes left in the game, Berube’s shutout was broken up by a goal credited to David Dziurzynski. Battling behind the net, the Sens winger carried the puck above the goal line and attempted a cross ice pass to Matt Puempel, who was driving towards the net. The puck deflected off of the stick of Andrew Bodnarchuk and in, as he attempted to break up the play. The Sens goal made it 5-1 for the Monarchs and the game ended shortly after.
Berube once again put on a strong performance in net for the Monarchs. He continues to use strong fundamentals to help make saves look routine, while also showing he can make athletic saves when needed. On the night, his glove was his best asset, using it to make two huge saves.
“(My) glove was hot. I don’t know. They should have tried somewhere else because it would not go in glove (side),” Berube said post game.
After being sent down for the second time on the season, Pearson has continued to play inspired hockey. While spending all of last year and parts of this year playing on the left side, Pearson has been playing right wing for an extended period of time for the Monarchs lately. During his second year in juniors, he played right wing all year, so the transition has been no issue to him. He continues to move his feet, work hard, and utilizes his best asset – his shot – very well.
Starting off the first two months of the season red hot, Weal’s play cooled down in December. Now, he’s back to where he was at the beginning of the year, producing at a very high clip. At the end of January, Weal tallied 14 points in 13 games. A high energy forward, Weal is always full speed ahead and tenacious on the puck. Likely no Monarch forward steals more pucks than Weal. Coupled with good vision and soft hands, he has the ability to turn these turnovers into offensive chances.
An issue all season for the Monarchs has been their powerplay. Sitting near the bottom of the league, the Monarchs can’t seem to figure out their scoring woes with the man advantage.
“There’s only one puck and everybody wants one. That’s the problem. I think our guys want to possess it and possess it and possess it and they haven’t figured out if you share it, and move your bodies, that good things will happen,” diagnosed coach Mark Morris on the issues with the man advantage.
The Monarchs take on the St. John’s IceCaps at home on Saturday, February 1 at 7 PM.
Line combinations and defensive pairings on Friday were as follows:
Nick Deslauriers – Linden Vey – Tanner Pearson
Brian O’Neill – Jordan Weal – Sean Backman
AJ Gale – Nick Shore – Zach O’Brien
Andy Andreoff – Andrew Crescenzi – Scott Sabourin
Derek Forbort – Andrew Campbell
Andrew Bodnarchuk – Colin Miller
Chris Huxley – Vincent LoVerde
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