The Manchester Monarchs have yet to play their first home game, but have played 3 road games already. All three of those game have gone to a shootout for their decision. Each of those games has ended 3-2 after the shootout with them dropping their first game to the Springfield Falcons and picking up a win against the Portland Pirates.

Last night’s game was the home opener for the Providence Bruins. Last season, they finished with the most points in the league and raised a banner to commemorate their Division Championship. The Bruins have some returning faces that were crucial to their success last year such as goaltender Niklas Svedberg, forwards Carter Camper, Craig Cunningham, and Ryan Cunningham, and defenseman David Warsofsky.

During the course of the season, the division rivals Manchester and Providence will meet 12 times. This first meeting setting the tone for how the series is likely to play out. The teams exchanged a pair of penalties early. Neither team got off great shots during the first frame and went to the first intermission scoreless.

The teams came back for the second period and the intensity picked up. Both teams started to get some good shots off to make the goalies come up with some good saves. Bruins forward Nick Johnson picked up his third tally of the season and opened the scoring for the game. At 7:40, Johnson tipped the puck past Martin Jones on a shot from defenseman Zach Trotman. Later that same period, the Bruins added to their lead. Alexander Fallstrom sent the puck over to Jared Knight at the bottom of the face-off circle. He beat Jones at 12:42 of the second to put Providence up 2-0.

The whole momentum seemed to shift when the teams came out for the third period. It was immediately clear that Manchester wanted it more. They controlled the entire period, taking 16 shots on Bruins’ Niklas Svedberg while limiting Providence to just 3 shots. At 5:10 of the third, the Monarchs got on the board. Just 11 seconds after Craig Cunningham of the Bruins went off for tripping, defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk capitalized on the power play with the assists to Brandon Kozun and Jordan Weal. After that first goal, Manchester continued to keep up the pressure. Although Svedberg made some great shots, the let another one in at 17:41. This time it was Kozun from Weal and Bodnarchuk.

At the end of regulation, the teams were still tied. Providence seemed to find their step again during overtime with the help of a penalty to Manchester. They got called for having too many men on the ice, possibly forgetting that overtime hockey is 4 on 4. The next 2 minutes were played 4 on 3 with Monarchs barely managing to make a change to the defensemen. Andy Andreoff played the entire penalty kill and the Monarchs found themselves able to get out of the situation without giving up a goal.

Despite the Bruins putting up 7 shots in the 5 minute overtime, the teams were still tied and went to a shootout. The teams did not need to go to their fifth shooters because it ended after 4. Providence shot first, sending out Ryan Spooner, Alexander Khokhlachev, Matt Fraser, and Carter Camper. Jones turned away all but Spooner, who scored to open things up. In response, Manchester sent out Tyler Toffoli, Jordan Weal, Brandon Kozun, and Andy Andreoff. Svedberg was only able to stop Kozun as the Monarchs completed the comeback victory.

Tonight, both teams are on the road. The Monarchs continue their season by heading down to Bridgeport to take on the Sound Tigers for the first time. The Providence Bruins head north to take on the Portland Pirates at their new home in Lewiston. Those teams meet a total of 12 times this season.

A New England girl, born and raised, Jessica Higham has grown up loving few things more than hockey. Although she has never considered herself to be a good skater, she fell in love with hockey back when boys still had cooties and that love has only grown since. She genuinely wishes she had been alive to enjoy ‘Miracle on Ice’ and considers it to be one of the greatest moments in US history. Nothing compares to the feeling of September coming and signaling the start of a new season, complete with a whole new set of ups and downs. After having been an avid reader and occasional writer, Jessica wanted to try putting the two loves together and writing about hockey. Aside from hockey, Jessica also loves music, going to concerts, animals, and walking on the beach. Email: jessica@thepinkpuck.com @JessicaHigham

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