Monarchs miss a chance
There goes one Cup.
The Portland Pirates held off the Monarchs, 4-2, in front of 4,916 at Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday night to capture the inaugural VIP Cup awarded to the winner of the season series between the two teams.
The Monarchs won the first two games between the teams this year, but ended up losing the series, seven games to five.
The bigger problem on Friday was that the Monarchs, sitting outside the playoffs at this point, lost a chance to pick up ground in the playoff race.
"We had every opportunity to win that game," said Monarchs coach Mark Morris. "Our defensive lapses were at inopportune times. We left two guys unattended at the post on two occasions."
The Monarchs fell to 31-30-7 (69 points) for the season. They are in 11th place - six points and three spots out of the eighth and final playoff spot held by Hershey.
"It's typical of a lot of losses we've had this season that were winnable games," Morris said.
The Monarchs will try again against Providence tonight at the Verizon. Providence clinched a playoff spot by beating Albany, 4-1, on Friday night.
The Monarchs visit Worcester on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Mike Lee made 24 saves for the win. Martin Jones stopped 22 shots for the Monarchs.
Down 2-1 entering the third period, the Monarchs tied the game on a Jordan Weal goal seconds after Portland killed off a Manchester power play. Brandon Kozun held the puck and drew attention his way and fed Weal, who fired a shot under the crossbar.
The tie lasted less than three minutes.
Darian Dziurzynski gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead with assists to Jordan Szwarz and Justin Feser. Feser, playing his first professional game, created the scoring chance by racing down the right side and feeding Szwarz.
Phil Lane finished off the scoring with his second goal of the night, this one into an empty net, with 1:08 left.
Manchester forward Hunter Bishop came down the right side, cut in front and beat Lee with a shot along the ice for the only goal of the opening period at 9:49.
Brett Hextall scored early in the second period and Lane late to put Portland up 2-1 with 20 minutes to go.
Hextall converted a pass from behind the net from Darian Dziurzynski for his eighth of the season to tie it 1-1 at 3:02 of the period.
Lane collected a rebound in front of Jones and stickhandled to the left and put a backhander behind the goalie with 1:24 left in the period.