True to his pre-series prediction, Adrian Kempe found the back of the net in the Monarchs second round series vs. the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. However, he didn’t beat Michael Mersch to the punch, as his fellow rookie notched a shorthanded goal in Game 4. Regardless, Kempe, the Kings first round draft pick last June, put Manchester on the board just 2:01 into the first period of Game 5 and they never looked back, closing out the series with a 2-1 victory. Kempe’s goal marked the seventh time the Monarchs scored within the game’s first three minutes of the 10 games they’ve played thus far this post-season.
They’re now moving on to the AHL’s Eastern Conference Final for the third time in franchise history, having also been there in 2007 and 2010. While those teams featured such memorable names as Jonathan Bernier, Noah Clarke, Peter Harrold, Bud Holloway, Jason Labarbera, Andrei Loktionov, Oscar Moller, Matt Moulson, and Patrick O’Sullivan – overall, this year’s club looks deeper on paper.
In goal, full credit should be given to netminder J.F. Berube. After a stellar regular season, which saw his stats rival all top goaltenders in the league, he looked a little shaky at times in the first round of the post-season. His coach showed unwavering support for the Kings 2009 draft pick, offering a rather pointed reply when asked if he ever had thoughts of pulling him. That faith was rewarded in the second round, where Berube posted a .929 save percentage and only surrendered a single goal in the series-clinching game.
Full video highlights from Game 5 can be seen here.
Line combinations and defensive pairings were as follows:
Michael Mersch – Jordan Weal – Brian O’Neill
David Van der Gulik – Nick Shore – Justin Auger
Adrian Kempe – Nic Dowd – Sean Backman
Ryan Horvat – Andrew Crescenzi – Zach O’Brien
Andrew Bodnarchuk – Vincent LoVerde
Jeff Schultz – Colin Miller
Derek Forbort – Kevin Gravel
Below are some post-game quotes, courtesy of Tony Androckitis of Highland Park Hockey:
Coach Mike Stothers on his team:
“I’ve been happy with our team all year long. A pretty resilient bunch, they work hard, they play the game hard and honest. As a coach, that’s all you can ask for.”
Stothers on finding success early in games:
“If you’re asking for me to put a finger on how or why it’s happening, I don’t know. But I hope it keeps happening. We just play, whether we have the lead or coming from behind we don’t change our mindset. We just go out and play – it’s pretty simple.”
Stothers on goaltender J.F. Berube:
“He was good. It’s a team effort. He’s good, the defense is good, the forwards are good. We don’t rely on any one person. We rely on the team and you know what, our guys usually provide.”
Stothers on getting some days off before the Eastern Conference Final:
“It’s a tough time of year, guys get pretty banged up. You play a hard-working physical team like Wilkes-Barre, you’re going to get more bumps and bruises. I guess we’ll be able to recover a little bit and watch Hershey and Hartford play it out.”
Michael Mersch on making it to the third round:
“We did the right things, the little details, to help win hockey games. We had to come out here and had to win a few road games and we did, so that gives us a little bit of confidence.”
Mersch on Manchester’s fast starts in this postseason:
“We have a lot of guys who can score goals and also play well defensively, so when you’re playing the right way it leads to goals.”
Brian O’Neill on their second round series vs. Wilkes-Barre:
“They have a really good offense, great defense and good goaltending, so beating a team like that definitely gives us some confidence going into the Conference Final.”
Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news or interviews from this site please remember to include a link to www.MayorsManor.com