MANCHESTER, NH – Right wing Brian O’Neill scored his first professional hat trick to lead the Manchester Monarchs to a 4-2 victory over the Adirondack Phantoms at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday night.
Manchester (37-16-2-6) leads the Atlantic Division with 82 points. Adirondack (24-28-1-3) sits in fifth place in the Northeast Division with 52 points.
“I’d just like to see us continue to be able to play the way we did in the first two periods,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “They’ve got some veteran players and some really good players. O’Neill had a great game for us and I thought (J.F.) Berube was sensational. It was a lot closer than 4-0 going into the third. He had to make some great stops and made some plays that were stellar. He was the difference maker for sure.”
O’Neill completed the natural hat trick at 13:24 of the second period. Center Jordan Weal passed the puck from the top of the right face-off circle to right wing Sean Backman in the slot. The puck was intercepted by a Phantoms player and recovered by O’Neill who was heading toward the net. O’Neill slipped the puck past Adirondack goaltender Yann Danis to make it a 3-0 game.
O’Neill got the Monarchs on the board first with a goal early in the opening frames. Backman passed the puck to Weal who then skated down right wing. Weal sent the puck through a defender’s legs to O’Neill who was skating between the center and the net inside the right face-off circle. O’Neill shot the puck past Danis to give Manchester a 1-0 lead at 1:23 of the first period.
O’Neill connected with Weal again for his second goal of the game at 15:21 of the opening frame. Weal intercepted a pass by a Phantoms player and then proceeded to pass the puck to O’Neill in the slot. O’Neill skated toward the net and fired a shot beating Danis to give the Monarchs a 2-0 lead.
Manchester made it a 4-0 game with a goal by forward Nick Shore. Defenseman Brayden McNabb passed the puck cross-ice to Shore at the front of the net. Shore fired it past Danis for a 4-0 advantage at 15:38 of the second period. The goal was also assisted by right wing Zach O’Brien.
Phantoms netminder Carsen Chubak replaced Danis between the pipes for the third period.
Adirondack found their way on the board with a power play goal by defenseman Bruno Garvais. Forward Chris VandeVelde fed a pass to left wing Tye McGinn in the right wing face-off circle. McGinn passed it to Garvais in the left face-off circle who then shot it past Monarchs netminder J.F. Berube at 3:25 in the third period.
The Phantoms struck again with their second power play goal by forward Kris Newbury. Center Kyle Flanagan passed the puck from the blueline to center Nick Cousins just below the left face-off circle. Cousins tapped passed the puck across the crease to Newbury who buried it past Berube making it 4-2 at 10:36 in the final stanza.
Berube (20-14-2) earned his 20th win of the season, stopping 30-of-32 shots. Danis (8-9-3) took his ninth loss of the season with 17 saves on 21 shots. Chubak (1-1-0) stopped all four shots faced in relief duty.
Manchester was 0-for-3 on the power play. Adirondack went 2-for-6 with the man advantage.
Notables: Right wing Brian O’Neill netted his first career hat trick against Adirondack…The Monarchs have four total hat tricks this season…Defenseman Brayden McNabb earned his first point, an assist, in a Monarchs uniform…The Monarchs have 82 points this season surpassing last year’s total points of 81.