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October 08. 2011 11:24PM

Monarchs shut out


Riley Holzapfle celebrates after scoring past Monarchs goalie Martin Jones in the first period Saturday. (BRUCE PRESTON / UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — The hockey gods giveth and the hockey gods taketh away.

One night after scoring five goals, the Manchester Monarchs were shut out 1-0 by the St. John's Ice Caps in front of 5,808 fans at Verizon Wireless Arena Saturday night. It was the first visit from the new Winnipeg affiliate and the first shutout of the season for Peter Mannino, who made 23 saves.

“They're a darn good hockey team. They've got a ton of experience and to hang in with them and play them to a 1-0 loss, I think that says a lot about how hard our guys competed,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “Our execution offensively was nothing like it was (Friday), but at the same time, we did have chances and we didn't get too many pucks that bounced our way.”

Manchester (1-1-0) had its share of opportunities, but could not cash in. The Monarchs power play went 0-for-5 and Mannino answered on the best chance of the night, robbing Brandon Kozun with a glove save on a point-blank shot at the left post with 7:09 remaining in the game.

“It's tough. The angle I was at is kind of a hard shot. If I'd have done it again I think I would have tried to go through his five-hole,” Kozun said. “In that situation, the goalie has an advantage when his glove is that close to my stick. That's a tough angle to score from, but in a tight game I've got to make sure I put that in.”

St. John's (2-0-0) scored the only goal on the power play goal at the 5:00 mark of the first period. Zach Redmond carried the puck into the zone on the left side, cut right and then fed Riley Holzapfel slashing to the net for a tip-in past goalie Martin Jones (24 saves).

“We had some confusion with our read coming back into our zone and it left a guy unattended on the back side,” Morris said. “They made the play and it was caused by a poor read by us. Hopefully, we learn from it and move forward.”

The Monarchs skated three power plays in the first period and produced solid scoring chances but no goals. The Ice Caps got a shorthanded bid when Monarchs rookie defenseman Nic Deslauriers couldn't hold the puck in the zone and then fell, allowing Spencer Machacek a breakaway that Jones turned aside with a pad save with 4:55 to go in the first.

The second period played out scoreless, with each team skating a fruitless power play. Manchester had one more man advantage in the third, but was once again denied as St. John's tightened up defensively.

“Especially late, they played more of a trap style like Tampa Bay,” Morris said. “I liken that to playing a game of red rover, red rover. You have to get the puck in behind them. We weren't getting the puck behind them with enough regularity to establish a forecheck and sustain any offensive play in their zone.”

St. John's came into the game off a 4-1 win in Providence Friday and the Ice Caps, new Atlantic Division rivals with Manchester, appear to be a team that will be in the mix all season.

“We competed hard and to hold a veteran-laden team to one goal was a good sign for us,” Morris said. “We obviously don't like to walk away with a loss, but when you play a good-skating team like that that has composure with the puck and defends as well as they defended, it's a learning curve for our guys.”

The Monarchs will be on the road for the next six games beginning with a trip to Providence Friday night. Early tests like the one against St. John's are good for a young team, Morris said.

“Sometimes you've got to go backwards before you can go forward,” he said. “This game was a good challenge for our team.”


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