By JOSH WEINREB
After a 5-2 in Manchester Friday night, it was hard to imagine the top team in the Atlantic Division putting up a stinker against a team that they’ve dominated all season.
They didn’t disappoint.
The Monarchs came out of the gates flying, emerging victorious with the 4-1 victory Saturday night at the Verizon Wireless Center. Manchester improves to 8-1-3 on the year, and a perfect 4-0 against Providence this season.
“Jones has been great, we’ve had timely scoring and every game has been nip and tuck,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris of his success over the Bruins this season. “This one too. Even though the score was 4-1 it was really a lot closer than that.”
“We know they’re a 5-minute, 10-minute push off the start,” Pearson said. “We wanted to just weather the storm and we ended up being the storm.”
After a frantic first period, one in which the Monarchs dominated, LW Andy Andreoff finally connected on the power play, receiving a hard pass at the left side of the net from Tanner Pearson for his second of the season. Pearson continues to help the Monarchs light the lamp with his fifth assist of the year and his 11th point, good enough for second on the team behind Jordan Weal.
“We got another great start, just like we did at their place (last night),” Morris said. “When you get that type of start it’s a lot easier to play the game because you get a lot of confidence, and we put a lot of pucks at the net.”
And he wasn’t kidding. The Monarchs outshot Providence 18-6 in the first period alone.
“We did a great job getting on the forecheck in the first period,” said Manchester goaltender Martin Jones. “We didn’t turn pucks over, and that’s the key to our game. When we get pucks deep and forecheck like we did in the first we get a lot of success.”
But the Bruins found their footing in the second period, outshooting the Monarchs 16-11 and finally getting some quality chances on Martin Jones in the Monarchs cage.
RW Sean Backman scored the Monarchs second of the game 3 minutes into the second period, finishing off a scramble in front of Subban and the Providence net that hopped over Subban’s left shoulder and into the net. O’Neill picked up the assist on Backman’s second of the year.
Providence cut the Manchester lead in half with a power play goal by Seth Griffith in the final five minutes of the period. Bruins LW Jared Knight found Griffith in the slot, who took a quick shot that found the inside of the right post and scored his fourth of the season.
“I thought we were really lax in the second,” Morris said. “We opened the doors for them, a lot of give-aways and turnovers. But we challenged the guys and they responded well.”
The Bruins finally brought the shots to even in the third period, taking control of the late stages of the game.
But it didn’t matter, as Brian O’Neill was hooked from behind on a breakaway leading to a penalty shot with 2:27 to go in the third. O’Neill buried it five hole on Subban, scoring his second of the season. Nick Deslauriers scored the empty netter to seal the deal for the Monarchs.
Fourth year goaltender Martin Jones made 30 shutouts for the Monarchs in the win. He improves to 8-1-2 through 11 game this season.
“We have a real solid group back there,” Jones said. “I’m real fortunate that we have some big bodies that can defend really well. They’ve helped out a lot, but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done moving forward here.”
Manchester played their second game in a row without talented scorers Tyler Toffoli and Linden Vey, who were called up the Los Angeles earlier this week to play with the parent club. In their absence, Pearson has become the go-to offensive scoring threat on the Monarchs roster. In the doubleheader vs. Providence this past weekend, it’s safe to say the 21-year-old from Kitchener has put himself on opposing teams’ radars.
“I don’t know if a lot’s on my shoulders, but it’s just a chance for other guys to step up,” Pearson said.
Still, four points against an Atlantic Division opponent is always good news.
“For back-to-back games, yesterday’s got a little messy as well,” Pearson said. “To take four points in a weekend, it’s nice to get a lead in the standings too.”
The Monarchs will hit the road next weekend, traveling to St. John’s for a doubleheader with the Ice Caps before returning home Wednesday, Nov. 13th against Norfolk.