A day after faces familiar to the LA Kings were in Manchester for the Monarchs game versus the Phantoms, a Hall of Famer was in attendance to watch the team take on the division rival Providence Bruins. Fresh off of serving as the general manager for the bronze medal winning Team Finland at the Sochi Olympics, former King and Edmonton Oiler Jari Kurri was in Manchester, scouting for Jokerit, where he too serves as the team’s GM.
The hometown Monarchs got off to a slow start, one in which they failed to create much offensively throughout the first period.
Providence would take advantage of the Monarchs’ lethargic play late in the first, as Alexander Khokhlachev scored his 17th goal of the year. After winning a faceoff in the offensive zone, the Bruins moved the puck from the faceoff dot to the point, where Blake Parlett let a shot. The defenseman’s shot would rebound off of JF Berube’s right pad right to Khokhlachev, who tapped the puck in for the 1-0 lead.
During the first intermission, a touching tribute was played for fallen MIT police officer Sean Collier, who lost his life in the events following the Boston Bombing in April 2013.
Meanwhile, Monarchs coach Mark Morris was busy in the locker room trying to find a way to spark some life into his team. They would respond quickly, scoring 3:18 into the second period off of a goal by forward Nick Shore. The former University of Denver Pioneer found a puck that went high up in the air after a good keep at the offensive blueline by defenseman Andrew Campbell and wired home his second goal in the past two games.
Under three minutes later, the Monarchs took their first lead of the game, thanks to winger Andy Andreoff’s first goal in 10 games. Breaking the puck out of their defensive zone, center Linden Vey found Andreoff in the neutral zone and passed him the puck. Stopping briefly to corral the pass that went behind him, Andreoff entered the offensive zone, read the play, saw that all of his teammates were covered, and made a nice move to drag the puck around a sliding defenseman. Wide open in the slot, the winger shot blocker side, beating the Bruins’ goaltender Niklas Svedberg for a 2-1 lead.
Entering the zone with the puck and a full head of steam, Steve Quailer drove to the net, letting go a shot and getting a whack at his own rebound. After the second chance by Quailer was stopped by Svedberg, James Livingston drove the net and tapped in the loose puck for his first goal in a Monarchs jersey and giving his new team a 3-1 lead. Picking up a secondary assist on the play was center Colin Fraser.
Late in the third period, good puck movement on the powerplay would allow Providence to come within one goal. Moving the puck from high to low, the Bruins Khokhlachev was able to find Craig Cunningham in the slot for a one-timer. Standing in front of the net, Justin Florek successfully redirected the puck past Berube to make it a 3-2 game.
Manchester would regain their two goal lead a minute and a half later, as Livingston picked up his second of the game. A Providence defender failing to glove down a puck from mid air at his own blue line allowed Livingston to enter the Bruins’ zone on a two-on-one, where he decided to shoot and beat Svedberg glove side. His second of the game would seal the second Monarchs’ 4-2 victory in the past 24 hours.
Playing in his first back-to-back games in over a month, Berube showed no rust or fatigue in victory. On the evening, he tracked pucks well, kept his rebounds under control, and stopped every shot he could reasonably be expect to make. One sequence saw him make two pad saves on close to deny a goal after Vey turned the puck over in the slot in front of Berube. His 34 saves would earn him first star of the game honors.
“I think it helped a lot, actually. Because at this point of the year, it’s so important to rest your body and just get ready for that long stretch. So, you know, now I think the rust is gone. Last weekend wasn’t necessarily the type of game I want to have but now it’s in the past, I’m just looking forward to the next games,” said Berube of his long absence during the Olympic break.
Though his goal in the game was his first in a long stretch, Andreoff has continued to play relatively well. At times, he can get lost in the shuffle and not really stick out as a strong presence for his team, but rarely does he put forth a poor effort. Saturday saw him make several smart plays, including the one which resulted in his goal. Andreoff took the time to read the play but still acted quick enough to not lose the puck to a sliding defender before shooting a hard shot to the back of the net. He also saw his regular time on the penalty kill and continues to be a physical presence on the ice.
In just his second game with the team, Livingston continues to show why Kings GM Dean Lombardi acquired him at the trade deadline. Friday saw Livingston show off his physical play and Saturday saw the winger prove he can contribute offensively as well. A hard working forward, both goals could be attributed to a non-stop motor Livingston plays with. His brief showings in Manchester indicate he could help contribute in many ways as his team pushes for their first ever Calder Cup.
“I thought we played well. I was saying to Quailer after the game – even if we hadn’t chipped in on the score sheet, we still had a pretty successful shutdown game. Down the stretch, I feel that’s going to be huge, so I was pretty pleased with how we played,” Livingston said of his line’s success on the night.
The Monarchs will look to complete the weekend sweep on Sunday, March 9 against the Hartford Wolf Pack at 3 PM. Morris indicated post game that Berube would likely start his third consecutive game for the team.
Line combinations and defensive pairings on Saturday were as follows:
Brian O’Neill – Jordan Weal – Sean Backman
Hunter Bishop – Nick Shore – Zach O’Brien
Andy Andreoff – Linden Vey – Scott Sabourin
Steve Quailer – Colin Fraser – James Livingston
Derek Forbort – Andrew Campbell
Jeff Schultz – Brayden McNabb
Andrew Bodnarchuk – Vincent LoVerde
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