Pair of Kings good enough for Monarchs
Jordan Nolan and Andrei Loktionov, both of whom projected to start the year with the parent club Kings if not for the NHL lockout, scored third period goals in a game where Manchester's new up-tempo style generated 41 shots on goal.
'I thought we skated very well. I thought our energy level was extremely high and the guys came in with a great focus,' said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. 'We executed a lot of the new parts of our system better than expected. It created transition for us and I thought we competed hard in all three zones.'
After two scoreless periods, Manchester broke through 28 seconds into the third period. Loktionov and Nolan raced into the Bridgeport zone and Loktionov fed Nolan for a sharp wrist shot from the right circle that beat Sound Tigers goalie Kevin Poulin high stick-side for the 1-0 lead.
Loktionov put up an insurance goal at 4:28. Defenseman David Kolomatis' blast from right point was fought off by Poulin, but the puck was pulled out of the air on the left side by Loktionov, who dropped the puck to his tape and snapped off a tough angle shot inside the far post.
'After the first period I thought we were a little bit (too much on the) perimeter even though we skated well. We weren't able to penetrate the scoring area,' Morris said. 'Little by little we got more guys going to the net and it created some great chances.'
Martin Jones got the start in net for Manchester and played until the midway point of the second period before rookie J.F. Berube came on. Jones stopped nine shots and Berube turned aside eight for the combined shutout.
The game marked the return of Scott Pellerin, the former Monarchs assistant coach who is now head coach of Bridgeport. After the game, many of the Monarchs players made it a point to skate across the ice to the Sound Tigers bench to shake Pellerin's hand.
'It was a very classy thing to do,' Pellerin said. 'I know those guys and respect those guys and those are the relationships you generate through the years as a coach and a friend. It was real classy of those guys to do that and it meant a lot to me.'
The first period played out scoreless despite numerous power play chances for each side. Seven minor infractions were whistled in the first, but both teams went 0-for-3 on the man advantage.
Play picked up in the second period but once again neither team could find the back of the net. Monarchs captain Marc-Andre Cliche had the best bid of the middle frame, snapping off a point-blank one-timer off a Richard Clune feed from behind the net that Poulin stuffed.
The second period saw the physical play pick up as well. Sound Tiger Mike Halmo gave Andy Andreoff's collar a few tugs after the whistle and Andreoff obliged by dropping the gloves and then dropping Halmo to the ice.
Kolomatis also squared off with Brett Gallant, and Clune earned a game misconduct in the final minutes of the second period with a corner thrashing of Marc Cantin as play went to the other end of the ice.
Those fireworks set the stage for the third period as Manchester put the capper on a solid first outing.
'Eventually we threw enough pucks at the net and we got some bounces,' Morris said. 'All in all, our energy level was great and I'm very pleased with the first taste of our new systems.'
The Monarchs play in Portland Sunday at 1 p.m. and then host the Pirates Monday at 3 p.m. at ICEnter in Salem. The regular season opens in Providence on Friday night.