Monarchs lose late lead, then the game in overtime.
Manchester Monarchs Andrew Bodnarchuk celebrates his goal with teammates during the second period of their game against the Worcester Sharks Friday at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)
Manchester Monarchs Marc-Andre Cliche(22) and Worcester Sharks Freddie Hamilton work in the corner during the second period of their game Friday at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)
MANCHESTER - The Worcester Sharks got the final tug in a back-and-forth battle for first place in the Atlantic Division, beating the Manchester Monarchs, 4-3, in overtime in front of 5,443 fans at Verizon Wireless Arena Friday night.
Worcester (8-6-2) led 2-0 early, but the Monarchs (8-6-2) came back and led 3-2 before the Sharks got in the final words. Manchester plays at Springfield tonight and will host Portland Sunday at 3 p.m.
"That's a game that we should have had in hand," said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. "We had plenty of opportunities to win it and we let them hang around too long and they came back and stung us."
Freddie Hamilton netted the game winner at 2:59 of overtime. Brodie Reid sent a backhand pass toward the net from the right boards and Danny Groulx collected the puck in the slot. Monarchs goalie Martin Jones slid across, but Groulx made a quick pass to Hamilton camped on the right post for the goal.
"I'm really disappointed with our inability to defend," Morris said. "We made some just awful decisions in our own zone. In critical moments, we had confusion and disarray. We need a lot of work on getting our guys to become better defenders."
The Sharks forced overtime with a goal at 13:13 that made the score 3-3. A Groulx slap shot from the left point was stopped by Jones, but the rebound found its way to John McCarthy for the goal as the Monarchs tried desperately to get the puck cleared.
"The sore spot for me is our inability to defend at critical times," Morris said. "That's just an area of the game that's a sore spot that we've got to correct."
Worcester led 1-0 just 50 seconds into the game, scoring on an early power play. Groulx made a cross-ice pass from the left wing boards to Tim Kennedy and the center snapped a shot past Jones from the right circle.
The Sharks pushed to a 2-0 lead at 3:17 when Matt Tennyson's slap shot from the high point was re-directed in front by Curt Gogol.
"(We made) a lot of youthful mistakes in the early going and again we got into early penalty situations that expended a lot of our offensive thrust," Morris said. "We spend so much time killing penalties that it's hard to sustain a whole lot of pressure when you've got guys that have spent a lot of time out there killing."
Manchester came back to make it 2-1 at 6:03 on a power-play goal from defenseman Nick Deslauriers. Fellow blue liner Slava Voynov fed Deslauriers, who navigated the top of the right circle before letting a wrist shot go to beat Harri Sateri far-side for his first goal of the season.
The Monarchs tied the game at 14:56 on Jordan Nolan's first of the season. Thomas Hickey's shot from the blue line hit traffic and Brandon Kozun nudged the puck to Nolan, who put it home from the doorstep. It was Nolan's first game back since opening night when he went down with a hand injury suffered during a fight.
Manchester took a 3-2 lead with the only goal of the second period. Defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk scored his second of the season with a slap shot from the right point that beat Sateri over the left shoulder and under the crossbar at 16:44.