MANCHESTER, NH – Rookie center Mike Ullrich scored his first American Hockey League goal, the game-winner, as the Manchester Monarchs topped the Worcester Sharks, 4-1, at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday night.
Manchester (12-3-1-2) leads the Atlantic Division with 27 points. Worcester (5-8-1-0) is ranked fifth in the Atlantic Division with 11 points.
“I give our guys credit, they played a hard game,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “We were on the puck most of the night and I thought any time we needed a filler, JF Berube was pretty solid for us. That last save he made with the back of his head, so he continues to give us a chance and we provided the scoring. I think, we jumped on them early and just kept building on it as the game went along. I don’t think there was ever a doubt that we were on the puck. There wasn’t too many times other than when (we) were on the penalty kill they were in control.”
Ullrich found twine at 1:46 of the second period. In the Monarchs’ defensive zone, the puck hopped clean over the stick of a Worcester defenseman who was receiving a pass back to the point. The puck traveled through the neutral zone and came to rest near the top of the right wing face-off circle in the Sharks zone. Ullrich scooped up the loose puck and skated toward the net. With heavy pressure from the Sharks, Ullrich tossed the puck off the end boards and picked up his own pass. From behind the net, Ullrich attempted to center the puck, but it deflected off of goaltender Harri Sateri and into the back of the net. Center Hunter Bishop and defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk assisted on Ullrich’s first AHL goal.
Right wing Sean Backman opened the scoring with his third goal of the season at 3:54 of the first period. Defenseman Cameron Burt, skating in his Monarchs debut, notched the secondary assist as he sent the puck into the Shark zone. Right wing Scott Sabourin won a battle along the boards near the top of the right wing face-off circle and found Backman all alone skating down the slot. Backman drew the puck from his forehand to his backhand and flipped it over Sateri’s blocker side.
The lead did not last long as the Sharks scored less than four minutes later, at 7:22 of the opening frame. Left wing Riley Brace had the puck behind Manchester’s net and found left wing Curt Gogol skating down toward the right post. Gogol fired a one-timer past Monarchs goaltender J.F. Berube to tie it 1-1. Right wing Eriah Hayes picked up an assist on the tying goal.
At 16:46 of the second period, Sharks center Bracken Kearns was awarded a penalty shot after breaking through the Monarchs defense and being thwarted by a hook. Berube stopped the blocker-side forehand shot with his right pad to keep the score 2-1.
Sabourin added a goal to his assist as he capitalized on a two-on-one breakaway at 7:21 of the third period. With assists coming from defenseman Andrew Campbell and defenseman Derek Forbort, Sabourin rifled a shot from the right face-off circle that found its way over the glove of Sateri to bring the score to 3-1.
At 17:20 of the third period, right wing Brandon Kozun took the puck into the offensive zone off of a Sharks turnover in the neutral zone. Skating down the left wing boards, he backhanded a saucer pass over to left wing Nick Deslauriers who gathered the puck and fired a shot. Sateri made the save with the tip of his right pad but wound up sending the puck straight to Kozun, who scored into an open net for his fifth tally of the season.
Berube (3-2-0) earned his third win of the season stopping 22-of-23 shots. Sateri (3-7-0) took his seventh loss of the season making 17 saves on 21 shots.
Manchester was 0-for-1 on the power play. Worcester went 0-for-3 with the man advantage.