MANCHESTER, NH – The Monarchs opened the Eastern Conference Finals with a 3-2 win over the Wolf Pack Thursday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
“(The game was) alright,” Head Coach Mike Stothers said. “I think both teams will play better next game. I think we showed signs of a team that hasn’t played in a while, and actually, I think they did too. I expect both teams to be better on Saturday.”
Manchester (8-3) has now taken a 1-0 lead in all three playoff series this year, pushing Hartford (7-5) to 2-1 in series openers.
Michael Mersch had two goals, including the game winner. It was his third multi-goal game of the playoffs.
The Monarchs opened the scoring when Mersch netted his seventh goal of the playoffs, 35 seconds into the game. Mersch pushed the puck under Yann Danis while he was on the ice, to score Manchester’s fifth goal in the first minute of play during the playoffs.
The Wolf Pack tied the game at 11:33 in the first, when Oscar Lindberg sent a backhand shot past J.F. Berube while skating across the face of the net.
Nic Dowd put the Monarchs back in the lead with a top-shelf wrist shot from the top of left circle on 2-on-1 breakaway at 11:07 in the second period. Dowd weaved around a Hartford forward at the Manchester blue line to start the rush, scoring his second goal of the playoffs with assists from David Van der Gulik and Vincent LoVerde.
Mersch added to the Manchester lead when he potted his second goal of the game at 16:02 in the third.
Mat Bodie brought Hartford back to within a goal when he scored at 6:43 from the boards to the right of Berube. Bourque added his second assist of the game on the play.
The Monarchs and Wolf Pack will play Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Arena at 7 p.m.
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- Manchester improved to 8-0 overall when scoring first in the playoffs and is 6-0 at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
- Manchester’s top line of Michael Mersch (8 goals, 7 assists), Jordan Weal (10 goals, 6 assists) and Brian O’Neill (6 goals, 6 assists) has combined for 24 Manchester’s 38 goals this postseason.
- Michael Mersch’s goal 35 seconds into the first period was the eighth time the Monarchs scored within the game’s first three minutes in these playoffs, and their third time doing it in as many games.
- David Van der Gulik extended his playoff point streak to six games when he assisted on Dowd’s goal in the second period.
- DylanMcIlrath received 10-minute misconduct at 17:14 in the third period.