(photo: Manchester Monarchs)

The Manchester Monarchs came back from their All-Star break and immediately got back into the swing of things with a three-in-three weekend. According to forward Tanner Pearson, as nice as it is to have the time off, it can also be difficult. They did not get back to practicing until Friday morning and had to immediately get to work.

They had a convincing win over the Worcester Sharks on Friday night before battling the snow to get down to Hartford on Saturday night. It was a real test for Martin Jones, who made 34 saves on 36 shots. They headed back to host the St. John’s Ice Caps on Sunday. The Ice Caps had Saturday off.

So far this season, the Ice Caps have proved a difficult opponent for the Monarchs to solve and this game started off seeming like it was going to go the same way. The teams were skating quickly and it was making it hard for either team to get a good shot off. A little more than halfway through the first, Manchester’s Tyler Toffoli, who has been on fire since returning from LA, took a hard hit and left the ice to go down the tunnel. Andrew Campbell also took a puck to the face, but both returned before the end of the period.

The teams skated out for the second without either team having made it onto the scoreboard. The Monarchs started the second with almost two full minutes of a power play, but were unable to capitalize. It would be the Monarchs that did ultimately strike first, despite the ice seeming to be tilted in the Ice Caps favor. New addition Steve Quailer, that came to the Monarchs as the result of a trade between the Kings and Canadiens. Quailer stopped just short of Ice Caps goalie Michael Hutchinson and fired it home.

However, St. John’s did not wait long to tie it up. Eric O’Dell sent the puck back to Carl Klingberg who fired from near the blue line. Martin Jones was doing his best to keep his team in the game, but he was unable to stop that shot. Following that, he continued to make a number of impressive saves. Despite his continued strong play, the Ice Caps took the lead at 14:16. Kael Mouillierat dug the puck out of the corner and fed it to Adam Lowry for the easy goal right in front of Jones.

It looked like St. John’s might take the 2-1 lead into the second intermission. If that had been the case, it would be lucky for the Monarchs. The Ice Caps got 22 shots on the board during the second period and the whistles were not going the Monarchs way. But with just 3 seconds left in the second, Nick Deslauriers evened up the game. Derek Forbort shot the puck from the blue line and Deslauriers was planted in front of the net, unable to give up which ended up paying off.

That was a huge goal for Manchester going into the second intermission and it came when they needed it. The Ice Caps took the lead again early in the third period. In a weird move, the puck might have deflected and bounced right over the shoulder of Jones. John Albert got credit for the goal.

Despite being behind again, Manchester continued to work hard. They got continued support from Jones and from their penalty kill unit. That was when they managed to convert in a big way again. Coming out of the penalty box, Toffoli raced after the puck and managed to beat Hutchinson to it behind his own net. He centered it in front of the net and it looked like it might clear the zone when Deslauriers came racing in off the bench for his shift. With Hutchinson still caught behind the net, Deslauriers fired it into an unprotected net and his second of the game.

The score would stay the same through the end of regulation forcing overtime. During the five minute overtime, Manchester only made use of a select few forwards and shifted Deslauriers in on defense. Despite their best efforts, the game would go to a shootout for a decision.

They only needed four skaters to get a final score. Jerome Samson, Mouillierat, O’Dell, and captain Jason Jaffray shot for the Ice Caps and all four were turned away by Jones. For Manchester, Nick Shore and Jordan Weal beat Hutchinson with him turning away Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli.

With that win, the Monarchs took all 6 points available on the weekend. Martin Jones was the clear star of the game, making 40 saves and stopping all shootout attempts. It is unlikely that he will spend much more time in Manchester. When the Olympic Break comes to an end, he will probably head back to LA to be Jonathan Quick’s back up. And he will probably be joined by Tyler Toffoli.

Manchester is off until Friday, when they kick off another three-in-three weekend, this time with all the games being at home. They host Springfield Friday night, Portland on Saturday night, and have a rematch against the Worcester Sharks on Sunday afternoon.

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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