Last night the Manchester Monarchs took to pink ice for their fourth annual Pink in the Rink night to benefit breast cancer research and awareness. Although the team has not had success on the ice during this annual event, they have been incredibly successful off the ice in raising money for the cause. For this event, they started by having each player skate out with one or two cancer survivors that they were honoring. It was a very touching display.
Things got off to a chippy start between the Monarchs and the Providence Bruins in the ninth of twelve meetings on the schedule this season for the division rivals. Games between these two have been known to get physical but surprisingly the only fight of game came about halfway through the first. Monarchs captain Andrew Campbell caught Bruins rookie with a check behind the Manchester net. Bruins forward Tyler Randell immediately stepped in to stick up for his teammate. He landed more punches and sent Campbell to the ice first.
The first power play of the game went to Providence when Monarchs rookie defenseman Derek Forbort went to the penalty box for holding the stick. It only took the Bruins 27 seconds to capitalize. Ben Youds passed the puck from the point to Ryan Spooner at the side of one of the face-off circles. Spooner took a shot at the net and Matt Fraser was there to put it past Martin Jones on his glove side.
Jones, who earned a more permanent spot with the Kings when they traded Ben Scrivens, returned to the AHL with the start of the Olympic Break. Although he has been getting playing time with the Kings, he said he did not see anything different about approaching an AHL game. He has spent a lot of time in the league and says he was to bring the same level of urgency as an NHL game. In last night’s game, he had a lot of trouble getting a good luck at the pucks coming at him.
“I think they only had two clean looks at the net and that was in the third period. The rest of it was kind of scrambles in front. It was a tough game,” Jones said of facing the shots from Providence. “There were a lot of scrambly plays and deflections so I just tried to stay in it and compete.”
The teams came out for the second with Providence leading 1-0 and still bringing a lot of energy on both sides. Manchester got their first power play just over three minutes in. Although they were not able to capitalize, their first unit of Tyler Toffoli, who also recently returned from LA, Tanner Pearson, Linden Vey, and Nick Deslauriers produced some good chances. All five of them play forward at even strength, but Deslauriers had been a defenseman prior to this season and they make a dangerous unit.
It was Deslauriers at even strength that got Manchester on the board to tie up the game. The goal came as he went to the net and followed through. He committed to the play and wrapped his stick around the back net to tap in the puck in an impressive move. The goal was the fifteenth of the season for the defenseman-turned-power-forward. In his previous two AHL season, he had only 5 goals in 128 games.
“Every shot, you never know what’s going to happen. You just have to go to the net. The puck bounced out from their D and I have a long reach so I was able to tap it in from behind,” Deslauriers said of his goal.
Following the goal, Deslauriers was assessed a 4 minute major for high sticking. The Monarchs managed to kill off the whole penalty, with Brian O’Neill and Sean Backman even combining for a good short handed attempt. But, unfortunately for the Monarchs, they would go into the second intermission down by a goal again. There was a lot of traffic in front of Jones, as seemed to be happening a lot last night, and Andrew Cherniwchan managed to put it home.
The third period seemed to have started the same way as the second: with a Manchester goal. It seemed that Linden Vey had tied up the game. The puck crossed the line, but the net was kicked off before the puck crossed the goal line. It was ruled no goal. With that, the momentum seemed to shift back towards Providence. Captain Mike Moore showed incredible skill when he lifted the puck and tucked it just inside the crossbar to put the Bruins up 3-1.
Despite both teams playing aggressive, tensions were not really boiling over much. After a whistle Monarchs defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk and Bruins tough guy Rob Flick started pushing and shoving. Flick was the only one assessed a penalty and Manchester had the man advantage. Lately, the Monarchs had been struggling on the power play. About two minutes after Moore gave the Bruins their 2 goal lead, Vey capitalized on the power play to bring them back within one. The assists went to Toffoli and Deslauriers, proving how talented that first power play unit could be.
Late in the final frame, Manchester pulled Jones for the extra attacker. They frantically tried to put the puck in the back of the Bruins net and keep it from going in their own empty net. They seemed to catch a break at the very end when Moore went off for delay of game and they had a 6-on-4 opportunity. But, they end up falling to Providence 3-2 and are still winless in the Pink in the Rink games.
“It’s hard to come out on the short end when you feel you battled hard enough to come out with a win”, said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “I just think the way things unfolded, and some of the things that sent us to the box, it’s very irritating. Am I happy about it, no, but I thought our guys played hard enough and well enough to win that game. We didn’t catch a break all game long. We really didn’t, and our guys competed (their) tails off.”
Manchester is right back at it this afternoon as they host the Albany Devils for the first and only time of the season. The two teams met last month in Albany and Manchester fell 5-2. It will be the last game before the teams get a little time off. The league breaks for the All-Star Classic. Although Manchester was originally slated to be represented by Martin Jones and Linden Vey, they will not have any representation now. Jones was replaced earlier when he earned his spot on the Kings roster, before it was clear he would be back for break. Vey bowed out due to a family commitment.