MANCHESTER - The St. John's IceCaps proved to be the colder team as the Manchester Monarchs broke a six-game winless streak with a 5-2 victory in front of 6,739 fans at Verizon Wireless Arena Friday night.
The win improved Manchester to 22-22-5 and put a stop to an 0-5-1 skid. The IceCaps have now lost five in a row and dropped to 21-27-3. The teams meet again tonight at 7 p.m. at the Verizon. Manchester will close the weekend with a trip to Connecticut Sunday (3 p.m.).
"I think it validates the way that we need to play," Monarchs head coach Mark Morris said. "When we stick with the consistent parts of our game, over the course of time the other team is going to turn pucks over and we're going to have success."
Leading 2-1 to open the third period, Manchester's Brandon Kozun pushed the advantage to 3-1 with a goal at 3:22. Rookie Colton Yellow Horn intercepted a clearing attempt and nudged the puck to Kozun, who beat Mark Dekanich with a wrist shot.
St. John's struck at 5:58 of the third to make it 3-2, cashing in during a four-on-three power play. Eric O'Dell's shot hit traffic in front and Jason Jaffray banged the rebound past goalie Martin Jones from the right doorstep.
Tyler Toffoli scored his team-best 22nd goal for Manchester at 14:18, increasing the lead to 4-2. Tanner Pearson sent the puck high in the air on a flip out of his own zone and Toffoli raced it down and let a laser wrist shot go from the blue line that beat Dekanich high stick side just under the crossbar.
"It was a one-on-four and I knew I wouldn't have been able to beat them so I just shot it through the D man's legs," Toffoli said. "The goalie didn't really see it so I'll take it."
The Monarchs added an insurance goal at 17:59 on Kozun's 14th goal of the year. Working the power play, Kozun let a wrist shot go from the top of the left circle that made it through traffic and Dekanich to ice the game at 5-2.
"They made it 3-2 at one point and we just wanted to keep going, keep getting pressure because we had a really good game and were all over them all game," Toffoli said. "I think it was huge to go up 4-2 and then Kozy made it 5-2 to make it sweeter and a little more comfortable."
St. John's opened the scoring 1:44 into the second period. Carl Klingberg's shot from the slot was kicked out by the right pad of Jones, but O'Dell was uncovered on the left post and popped the rebound in.
The Monarchs tied the game at 18:13 of the second period, using momentum and zone presence coming out of a power play. Defenseman Nick Deslauriers sent a cross-ice pass to the left circle for a one-timer from Linden Vey that was stopped by Dekanich. The rebound came to Toffoli in the slot and Toffoli roofed the puck.
Manchester took a 2-1 lead just 34 seconds later. Anthony Stewart raced down a loose puck on the right boards and skated into the zone, cutting across the slot to slide a backhand shot under Dekanich and in with traffic in front.
"We were kind of puck-watching on their first goal a little bit," Morris said. "After we finally started getting pucks on net in the second period, Toffoli got us off on the scoring spree. I thought that the goal that Stewart scored was a momentum-changer. He barreled down the wing and took it to the net hard."