Imama powers Monarchs to early series lead

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Bokondji Imama (credit – Andrew Sylvia)

ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland and Labrador – Despite nearly going winless against the Newfoundland Growlers in the regular season, the Manchester Monarchs certainly found a win against Newfoundland when it mattered most.

Manchester took a 3-2 win over the Growlers at Mile One Center in St. John’s on Friday night, taking Game 1 of their Best-of-7 ECHL Eastern Conference Semifinal Series.

Bokondji Imama opened scoring with an unassisted goal 12:47 into the first period, stealing the puck behind the net and lifting it past Growlers goaltender Michael Garteig.

Zach O’Brien evened things up for the Growlers before the first intermission, but the hosts couldn’t take the lead until the second period. There, Francis Power found a rebound after a series of shots deflected by Manchester goaltender Charles Williams, placing the puck just past an outstretched Williams for his second goal of the playoffs.

Kevin Dufour’s sixth goal of the playoffs tied things up 8:58 into the third period, but it came down to Imama for the game-winner just a few minutes later. The Quebec native fired a shot in traffic toward Garteig, bouncing through to give Manchester a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

While Imama didn’t post an assist, he did make it part way to a Gordie Howe Hat Trick with a minor altercation early in the third period with James Melindy.

The pair only took a two-minute minor for roughing, but Melindy also earned a misconduct for attempting to continue the altercation.

Manchester hopes to return home with momentum after Game 2 on Saturday, with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m. New Hampshire time, or 5:30 p.m. in St. John’s.