Monarchs win in shootout
MANCHESTER – In a game dominated by the goaltenders, the Manchester Monarchs came out with a 2-1 shootout win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in front of 5,177 fans at Verizon Wireless Arena Saturday night.
Manchester has won five in a row to improve to 11-9-1. Bridgeport fell to 10-7-3. The teams will meet again today at 3 p.m. in Bridgeport.
“It took some skillful shooting in the shootout to come out on top. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to our goaltender, Jeff Zatkoff. He did a great job,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “It was a real emotional win and I thought everybody worked hard.”
Zatkoff (27 saves) turned aside four of five Bridgeport shootout snipers to earn the win. Only the first shooter, Sean Backman, was able to beat Zatkoff by roofing a backhand shot.
The Monarchs third shooter, captain Marc-Andre Cliche beat goalie Anders Nilsson high glove and the next Monarch to get the call was David Meckler, who beat Nilsson mid-net glove side. The big Bridgeport goaltender (6-foot-5) had made several highlight reel saves among his 34 stops in regulation time.
“Credit their goalie, he played an unbelievable game,” Morris said. “As our guys said, there’s nothing to shoot at. He’s a monster in there. Every time it’s just him and you and the puck he just takes up so much space, there’s really not a lot to shoot at.”
The game was scoreless until the 5:55 mark of the third period when Jordan Nolan gave Manchester a 1-0 lead. The Monarchs had established good pressure in the Bridgeport zone. Brandon Kozun’s shot from the high slot was kicked out by Nilsson but Nolan pounced on the rebound in front and banged the puck home.
The Sound Tigers tied the game just 85 seconds later. Dylan Reese’s wrist shot from the slot was stopped by Zatkoff, but Bridgeport captain Jeremy Colliton was in front to sweep the rebound past the prone Zatkoff.
The game remained tied through regulation and the Monarchs killed a four-on-three Bridgeport power play in the overtime.
The first period featured a fast pace and solid chances on both ends, but no goals. The Monarchs out-shot Bridgeport 18-10 in the frame. The highlight was a heavyweight bout between Bridgeport’s Trevor Gillies and Justin Johnson. Gillies landed more punches, but took the worst of it, coming away with a bloody right side of the head.
The Sound Tigers turned up the pressure in the second period, out-shooting Manchester 10-3 but once again another 20:00 passed with no goals. Bridgeport had the best chance of the period as Colliton snapped off a point-blank one-timer that Zatkoff slid across to rob with a stick save, matching what Nilsson was doing on the other end.
“I think it was a quick turnover and there was a guy on the short side. Fortunately, he kept the puck on the ground and I was able to get across,” Zatkoff said. “(Nilsson) is a good goalie. I think he just got sent down (from the Islanders) from the NHL. He kept them in there.”
Now it will be a quick turnaround as the teams meet again this afternoon.
“It’s the way the league goes sometime,” Morris said. “We didn’t play (Friday) night so we’ll have to shake off the bus legs and go out and do it all over again.”