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January 13. 2012 10:57PM

Monarchs drop fourth straight

MANCHESTER — The Manchester Monarchs remain 0-for-2012.

Manchester dropped its fourth straight game, a 4-2 loss at the hands of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in front of 5,364 fans at Verizon Wireless Arena Friday night.

The Monarchs are 21-16-2 and left immediately after the loss to hit the road for a game at Adirondack tonight. The Monarchs will close the weekend with a 3 p.m. home game against Portland on Sunday.

“Too many miscues,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “It’s hard to find words for it. We’re in a rut and we’ve got to find a way out now. We can’t make as many mental errors as we did and expect to win a hockey game against a team that’s playing together.”

Trailing 2-1 to start the third period, Manchester came out with some jump and tied the game at the 3:24 mark. Dwight King made got the puck to Robbie Czarnik behind the net and Czarnik banked the puck off goalie Anders Nillson and in from a tough angle.

But the Sound Tigers came right back to take a 3-2 lead just 22 seconds later. Monarchs goalie Jeff Zatkoff made the save on a Matt Donovan shot, but Tyler McNeely was there to fire the rebound home.

Zatkoff played well, seeing a lot of pucks as the Monarchs were outshot 38-18.

“I thought Zatkoff played really well for us in the net,” Morris said. “It’s unfortunate that we left him exposed a few times. He made some big saves and played well enough to help us win a hockey game.”

The Monarchs were unable to tie the game back up and Bridgeport (17-17-4) got an empty-net goal from Rhett Rakhshani with 49.1 seconds remaining to put it away.

The Monarchs came out strong to start the night and took a 1-0 lead at 3:49 of the first period on a Brandon Kozun power-play goal. Good puck movement led to the score as Czarnik sent a pass from the left wing to King on the low right side and King followed with a crisp pass to Kozun on the left doorstep for a one-timer past Nilsson.

Bridgeport scored twice in the second period to take a 2-1 lead. The Sound Tigers tied the game with a goal from Rakhshani at 9:04. Aaron Ness fed Rakhshani in the slot for a wrister that beat Zatkoff high glove-side.

A power-play goal from David Ullstrom at 16:36 put Bridgeport on top for the first time. Jon Landry’s pass from the top of the left circle found Ullstrom cutting to the net on the right side and Ullstrom swept the puck home before Zatkoff could get across.

“The second period, they just took it to us,” said Monarchs forward Justin Azevedo, who returned to the lineup after missing 12 games with an elbow injury. “We were flat and didn’t look like we really wanted it. Everybody as a group was just a step or two behind when we should have been dictating the play and establishing the forecheck and beating guys to pucks.”

NOTES: The Monarchs honored long-time season ticket holder Hal Collins with a moment of silence Friday night. Collins was diagnosed with cancer over the summer and passed away last week. Collins was known for his large jersey collection and could always be spotted wearing a different Kings or Monarchs sweater at games. Flowers adorned his seat for Friday’s game.

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