Monarchs work past Sharks, 2-1
Manchester edged Worcester 2-1 in front of 4,933 fans to improve to 14-12-4 for 32 points, leapfrogging over the Sharks (14-11-3, 31) and into third place in the Atlantic Division.
The Monarchs and Sharks meet again two more times in the next week, at Worcester Friday night and then in Manchester on New Year's Eve. The Monarchs have one game in between, at Bridgeport Saturday night.
'It was a gutsy effort,' said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. 'We got some timely goals. We defended really well. They're an explosive team, they play you hard and we had to earn every inch.'
Trailing 1-0 to open the second period, Manchester scored twice in the middle frame to take the lead and then held on through the final 20:00. Worcester came wave after wave late in the third period, but Monarchs goaltender Peter Mannino (29 saves, 13 in the third) stood tall to improve to 7-2-0.
'They're a good team. We've had trouble with them in the past,' Mannino said. 'You don't want to lose games when you're up 2-1 in the third, especially at home. Tonight, we held on to it. We needed those points. Two (wins) in a row.'
It's the first time Manchester has won back-to-back games since late October. The Monarchs also reversed a recent trend of not being able to hold onto late leads.
'I think that this is something that we need and something we've needed for quite a while,' Morris said. 'Learning how to win those tight games, that makes you believers when you can pull it out.'
Manchester's Stefan Legein tied the game at 1-1 at 6:35 of the second. Dwight King started the play, taking a nasty hit along the boards in his own zone but springing Legein down the left wing side. Legein cut to the slot and got goalie Alex Stalock moving, sliding a shot along the ice inside the left post for his second goal of the season.
Manchester went up 2-1 at 8:30 when Andy Andreoff scored his fourth goal of the year. Andreoff stole the puck at neutral ice and led a two-on-one with Rich Clune the other way, beating Stalock with a wrist shot high glove-side from the top of the right circle.
'Cluner was driving the net and I think the goalie maybe thought I was going to pass it over to him so he was kind of cheating on that side and I saw the short side was open and gave it a try,' Andreoff said.
Worcester scored the only goal of the first period, striking at 9:25. Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin blasted a slap shot from the high left point that Mannino stopped with his right pad, but a juicy rebound popped into the slot and James Livingston banged it home from there.
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Ian Clark may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.