MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Monarchs scored three times in the third period to complete a comeback 5-4 victory over the Portland Pirates on Saturday night. The win gives the Monarchs a 6-2 lead in the VIP Cup series, presented by VIP Tires & Service and clinches at least a share of the VIP Cup championship. For more information on the VIP Cup, visit www.vip-cup.com.
With David Rundblad in the lineup for the Pirates for his first game for the Pirates since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on 5/2/13 against Syracuse, the Portland offense came out firing. Daine Todd opened the scoring, putting a slap shot past Manchester starter Martin Jones at 6:58 of the first to give the Pirates the lead. Mathieu Brodeur and Brandon Yip had assists on Todd’s third of the year. Lucas Lessio doubled the Pirates’ lead 1:22 later on the power play, taking a feed from Brendan Shinnimin for his 17th goal of the year. Brandon McMillan also assisted Lessio’s goal, his on the man advantage this season. Louis Doming stopped all 15 shots he faced in the first to keep the Monarchs off the board and Portland took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
Manchester cut into the Pirates lead early in the second. Nick Delauriers beat Domingue with 16:40 left in the second to bring Manchester within one. Brandon McMillan answered back for the Pirates on the power play at the 8:05 mark of the second, his 9th goal of the year, and the Pirates regained their 2 goal advantage. Chris Brown and Andy Miele picked up assists on McMillan’s goal, with Miele’s assist the 100th of his AHL and Pirates career. Miele becomes the 13th Pirates player in team history to break the 100 assist threshold for their career.
Jordan Weal retaliated for the Monarchs, making the deficit 1 once again just 17 seconds after McMillan’s goal. McMillan would then answer back for the Pirates with a second power play goal at 10:19 of the second to give Portland a two goal lead once again. Miele and Tobias Rieder assisted McMillan’s 10th goal of the year.
Manchester came back in the third period. Colin Fraser tallied the first of three Monarchs goals with 9:43 left in regulation to pull Manchester within 1 goal. Jordan Weal then tied the game with his second goal of the night with 8:49 left in the third. Manchester took their first lead of the night as Zach O’Brien scored the go ahead goal with just 2:29 left in regulation. With a late power play and Domingue on the bench, the Pirates pressed the advantage but were unable to beat Jones again.
Manchester’s win gives them a share of the VIP Cup Series lead, presented by VIP Tires & Service. The Pirates were the winners of the VIP Cup last season, and can still tie the series if they are victorious in regulation in their final 4 matchups this season.