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Monarchs rally, win on last-minute goal

New Hampshire Union Leader

December 31. 2016 11:57PM

Manchester Monarchs Derek Arnold, right, leaps into teammate Gaspar Kopitar after Kopitar scored a goal vs. the Norfolk Admirals in the first period of their game on New Year's Eve in Manchester. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER - The Manchester Monarchs tied a bow on 2016 in dramatic fashion on Saturday night.

The Monarchs and the Norfolk Admirals combined to score four goals in the final eight minutes of their New Year's Eve contest at SNHU Arena, but Manchester got the final tally with 35 seconds left to take a 4-3 victory before a festive crowd of 5,817.

Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman won it for Manchester, rifling a wrist shot from inside the right circle to the top-left corner of the net.

Quentin Shore, Ashton Rome and Gasper Kopitar added a goal apiece for the Monarchs (20-8-1-1) while goalie Sam Brittain stopped 34 shots to earn his 14th win.

The triumph capped a 9-1 December for the Monarchs and tightened their grip on first place in the North Division and second place in the ECHL Eastern Confrence standings.

The Admirals score a pair of unanswered goals to start the four-goal stretch in the third and take a 3-2 lead before Manchester made its run. Shore helped set the stage for Lavallee-Smotherman's winner with the game-tying goal prior to the final minute of play. Shore put away the equalizer after David Kolomatis collected his own re-directed wrist shot and found Matt Leitner, who promptly slipped a pass to Shore in front from the right post.

Manchester's 2-1 edge prior to the third-period outburst looked like it would be enough, given the play of Brittain, who made 18 of his saves in the second period. Brittain, who was reassigned to Manchester on Saturday following a week-long stint with the AHL's Springfield Thunderbirds, made an array of stops in the middle period. The netminder's best work in the second came on a post-to-post sprawling save and later a glove save on a blistering slap shot through traffic.

After Kopitar tied the game 1-1 with 2:26 left in the opening period, Brittain was staked a lead midway through the second period on a highlight-reel goal from Rome.

Teddy Doherty surprised almost every player on the ice with an end-to-end pass that Rome collected between the circles before finishing for the score without a defender in front of him.

Manchester will kick off 2017 on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. when they travel south to meet the Orlando Solar Bears.

The game is the first of four straight in the Sunshine State for the Monarchs.

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