Jeff Schultz's first goal in six months allowed the Monarchs to clinch the Eastern Conference title for the first time in nine seasons. Schultz fired a slap shot past Providence goalie Malcolm Subban at 2:39 of the third period to lift Manchester past the Bruins 3-2 Sunday at the Dunkin' Donuts Center on Sunday afternoon. It was Schultz's first goal with the Monarchs since last October, clinching the Eastern Conference title for the second time in the 13-year history of the franchise.
The Atlantic Division-winning Monarchs (48-19-2-6, 104 points) last captured the conference title during the 2004-05 season.
"The winning goal came from an unlikely source, Jeff Schultz," said Monarchs' head coach Mark Morris. "He came through for us with a timely blast from the blue line to beat Malcolm Subban. Wrapping up the Eastern Conference is quite a feat when you consider the obstacles teams are faced with at the AHL level."
Steve Quailer gained an assist after Schultz's shot made its way through traffic and beat Subban top shelf.
Providence's Alexander Fallstrom opened the game scoring in the first period, banging home a loose rebound past Manchester goalie J.F. Berube. Andy Andreoff answered for Manchester on the power play later in the period.
Manchester took a 2-1 lead at 3:09 of the middle frame on Scott Sabourin's 12th season goal. Nick Johnson of Providence, a Dartmouth College product, tied the game with his 18th season tally at 6:33 of the second period.
Berube (28-16-2) earned his 28th season win with 18 saves and Subban (15-9-5) suffered the loss with 24 saves. Manchester, skating strong on a five-game winning streak, closes out its regular season with a rematch in Providence on Friday at 7 p.m. On Sunday the Los Angeles Kings assigned defenseman Andrew Campbell to the Monarchs. Campbell, 26, appeared in three games with the Kings.
The American Hockey League suspended Manchester defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk for Sunday's game against Providence, Bodnarchuk was assessed an instigator penalty within the final five minutes of the third period during Saturday's game against Portland, resulting in an automatic one-game suspension.
Portland Pirates left wing Darian Dziurzynski has been suspended for three games. Dziurzynski received automatic suspensions for accumulating his third and fourth game misconducts in the "general" category this season.
His suspension started Sunday, missing Portland's game against Norfolk. He will miss games Wednesday against Albany and Saturday against St. John's.