(Photo: Manchester Monarchs)
The Manchester Monarchs and Norfolk Admirals did not have much chance to reflect on Game 1 as they were back at it last night for Game 2. After the Monarchs took the first game, Norfolk was likely looking just to get on the board in Game 2 since they did not get one past JF Berube during the first game.
Both teams made a couple lineup changes prior to the second game. For Manchester, the only change that they made was to put Colin Miller in instead of Derek Forbort. Conversely, Norfolk had gone with 7 defensemen during the first game. They took out defenseman Kevin Gagne and forward Radoslav Illo to replace them with forwards Maxime Sauve and Steven Whitney.
Manchester seemed to pick up where they had left off. They were controlling the pace and most of the shots. In fact, the Admirals only had two shots halfway through the first period. It seemed like this game was going the same way as the first had gone. Rookie Monarchs goalie JF Berube was not looking as steady as he had in the first game, though.
Although Admirals goalie John Gibson was not giving up many rebounds, it was the Monarchs that struck first in this game as well. There was a lot of traffic in front of the net and it looked like the Monarchs just needed a good bounce. But, it was recent addition Nic Dowd, a Hobey Baker Finalist this season, that notched the first goal of the game and his first professional goal. The assists went to Dowd’s linemates, Andy Andreoff and Linden Vey. Just over a minute later, the Monarchs got on the board again. Zach O’Brien had his second in as many games when he fired a shot from the blocker side that beat Gibson.
At the end of the first period, Vinny LoVerde hit Steven Whitney hard into the corners. Although it was a legal hit, the Norfolk trainer came out to check on him. Thankfully, Whitney was out again for his first shift in the second period and appeared to be fine. But the Monarchs learned that the most dangerous lead in hockey is the two goal lead.
Tensions finally boiled over just over two minutes into the second period. A fight (via www.hockeyfights.com) broke out between Steve Quailer and Nolan Yonkman after the net got knocked off. Quailer barely got a punch in as Yonkman got a number in, but it was good because someone needed to step up. Following that, the game saw it’s first power play as Norfolk’s Zack Stortini got called for interference after a clear elbow to Brayden McNabb’s head.
The first power play goal of the series came in the second frame when Manchester’s Colin Miller was serving a tripping penalty. Berube was caught out of position after a weird rebound. It bounced right onto the stick of Norfolk’s Max Friberg who put the puck past Berube.
With that goal, the ice clearly tilted in favor of the Admirals and away from the Monarchs. Later that same period, Norfolk’s Dave Steckel tied up the game. Once again, there was a lot of traffic in front of the net and the puck appeared to just be tipped in. Steve Eminger and Sami Vatanen had the assists. Throughout the whole second period, Manchester only managed to get 5 shots after seeming like they were skating circles around the Admirals in the first period.
When the Monarchs came back out for the third period, they really needed something to change for them. They had a couple chances on the power play but were not able to make the most of them and need to do so in order to win. The Admirals also have a lot of big bodies to support a physical game that the Monarchs struggled to keep up with.
In the third, the Admirals took their first lead of the series. Norfolk came into the zone with a strong passing effort between the forwards and William Karlsson beat Berube on a somewhat soft looking goal. Despite the Monarchs putting a strong push to tie the game late, they were not able to even the score. With Berube pulled for an extra attacker, Gibson came up with a highlight reel save. That one save could have changed the entire series.
The series heads back to Norfolk for games 3 and 4. Game 5, if necessary, will also be played in Norfolk. Due to the distance between the two teams, Manchester only got to have the first two games on their home ice. It was not what they would have expected after earning the top honors in the conference since home ice advantage is supposed to be a perk. But, as Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris said, there is nothing they can do but play the games.
So, what does Manchester need to do in order to take 2 of the 3 games in Norfolk and win the series? They have to stick to their game. Throughout the season they have been a fast team that’s able to get in behind the defense. That’s when good things happen. Norfolk has a lot of big bodies which means they don’t always skate as quickly. The Monarchs also need to find a way to convert on the power play. That can be the difference between wins and losses. Finally, the Monarchs might need to look at the lines. Something just didn’t seem to be clicking the way it had been during the regular season.
Game 3 will be in Norfolk on Wednesday, Game 4 will be on Friday, and Game 5, if necessary, will be on Saturday.