My mother is visiting me at college this weekend, and since the Monarchs were in town and we wanted to see a hockey game, we took in some AHL action.
The game started out competitive, but the Monarchs' continuous habit of winning puck battles and overpowering the Bruins on transition turned this game into a laugher.Manchester got on the board early as Linden Vey tied up the Providence center (I'm not certain, but I think it was Kyle MacKinnon) on the faceoff before the puck got to Meckler in the slot who fired it past Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin for the first goal of the game. After a big save by Monarchs goalie Martin Jones, the Monarchs quickly took the puck the other way. Defenseman David Kolomatis took a shot from the left point that created a rebound out to Cam Paddock at the right circle who fired a shot that Rich Clune got a stick on for the Monarchs second goal. After fourth-liner Justin Johnson got overeager and earned a 4-minute double minor for roughing, a missed rotation on the penalty kill made way for Josh Hennessy to cut the Monarchs' lead to one. With Manchester on the power play in the last moments of the first period and after a rough first minute that saw Providence clear the puck twice, the unit gained entry into the zone and worked the puck to Kolomatis at the point who fired a shot on net that Justin Azevedo tipped past Khudobin to restore the Monarchs' two-goal lead before the end of the first.
The second period began with the Monarchs slowly starting to suck the life out of the Bruins. Passes were crisp and on the tape, breakouts were executed to perfection, the cycle game was established, defensemen pinched at the proper times, and Martin Jones was turning aside every odd Providence chance. After giving up a goal on a sloppy play on their first kill, the Monarchs' PK unit not only shut Providence down in the offensive zone but threatened on several occasions before a rush up ice by Jordan Nolan led to a feed to Andrei Loktionov who found Slava Voynov moving up for a slapshot that all but ended the game at that moment with the Monarchs fourth goal, a shorthanded marker. Clune worked his way into the slot for a shot and his second goal of the game (after 30 seconds of complete dominance in the Bruins zone), and in the last minute of the second, Azevedo followed up a scramble in the Providence net to bang home his second of the game past Karel St. Laurent, in for Khudobin after the Monarchs fifth goal. Kolomatis finished the scoring in the third off a shot from the left circle after another good cycle down low. 7-1 Monarchs win.
- Clune can't win a fight in the AHL either. At least he can score at this level.
- Thomas Hickey had a rough first period, missing pretty much every breakout pass he attempted and getting hemmed in his own zone frequently. He settled down and skated the puck more in the second, and soon, he was able to move the puck up to the forwards more easily.
- Nolan has size and knows how to use it effectively. He must, however, figure out how to put the puck on net; he was involved in three rushes up ice, two in which he made a terrible centering pass (even though he had a shooting lane) and the third in which he couldn't get the shot past a Bruin shin pad.
- I noticed Nicolas Deslauriers in warmups, but he was a healthy scratch.
Brandon Kozun didn't make the scoresheet, but he was a force in the offensive zone with his speed and willingness to shoot the puck.
- The pairing of Muzzin and Voynov looked NHL quality.
- Loktionov was solid all game, back-checking and stickhandling his way around trouble. He did have one egregious turnover early on in his own zone that pinned the Monarchs in and led to an icing whistle.
- Jones was fantastic with his positioning and it showed in how he was able to make many saves off tips and deflections. The few rebounds he gave up went straight to the corners or half-wall where teammates were waiting to pick it up and move it out of the zone. The Bruins' first goal went under his pad, but the shot was available in the first place because a defenseman (it was either Voynov or Kolomatis, I just saw a little bit of the number 6) over-committed down low and left a man at the bottom of the circle wide open.
This game was a great early season victory for the Monarchs, and many players did stand out and have great games. Your three stars for the night were 3) Kolomatis, 2) Azevedo, and 1) Clune. I'll admit that after the Monarchs' fifth goal, I stopped paying attention with the same level of detail I did beforehand, but if there's anything you all want to ask about, feel free to write in the comments section, and I'll do my best to give you an answer.