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November 23. 2011 9:39PM

Monarchs' late score wins fight-filled game

MANCHESTER — The Manchester Monarchs and Worcester Sharks celebrated Thanksgiving by beating the stuffing out of each other Wednesday night.

In a game that featured three fights and numerous big hits, the Monarchs got a late power-play goal from captain Marc-Andre Cliche to earn a 2-1 win in front of 2,950 fans at Verizon Wireless Arena.

Manchester (10-9-1) has won four consecutive games and will host Bridgeport at 7 p.m. Saturday night and then close the weekend at Bridgeport Sunday at 3 p.m.

In the waning seconds of a power-play chance, Monarchs forward David Meckler gained the Worcester zone on the right wing side and sent a drop pass to Cliche at the blue line. Cliche fired a big slap shot on net and the puck hit Sharks defenseman Taylor Doherty and deflected over the shoulder of goalie Tyson Sexsmith for the winning tally at 18:32.

The win was the third in four games for Manchester over Worcester (6-5-4) and all three came in one-goal games.

Tommy Wingels tied the game at 1-1 at 5:43 of the third period, finally breaking through on Monarchs goalie Martin Jones on the Sharks’ 30th shot of the night. Wingels’ backhand attempt at the right post was stuffed by Jones, but Jones could not hold the post and Wingels jammed the loose puck into the net on the rebound.

Ray Kaunisto scored the only goal of the second period, giving Manchester a 1-0 lead at the 8:06 mark. Dwight King forced a turnover on the right wing boards and Kaunisto took the puck deep in the right circle, cut to the net and slipped the puck through the five-hole of Sexsmith.

The goal came just a few minutes after a fight between Jordan Nolan and Taylor Doherty. It was the third fight of the game and occurred after Nolan hit Doherty behind the Worcester net and Doherty took offense and dropped the gloves.

The first period played out scoreless, but not for lack of action. Justin Johnson of the Monarchs and Fraser McLaren traded punches a little over 7:00 in and Ray Kaunisto fought Matt Pelech in the final minutes of the frame in defense of Jordan Nolan, who had been leveled by Pelech at center ice.

The rough play was a continuation of last weekend’s meeting when the teams also traded big hits and heavy punches.

The teams will renew the bad blood on Dec. 4 in Manchester in a Sunday matinee.

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