HERSHEY, PA – Michael Mersch collected the first hat trick of his pro career, tallying a career-high five points (two assists) in Manchester’s 6-3 win over Hershey at the Giant Center on March 27. The Monarchs extended their winning streak to five straight games and they have earned at least one point in each of their last eight (7-0-1-0).
Mersch tied the franchise record for points in a single game, becoming the fifth Manchester player ever to record five points. He joined Andy Andreoff (Dec. 17 at POR) as the only Monarchs to register a hat trick this season.
The Monarchs (42-15-6-2) extended their lead to five points over the Bears (40-19-5-2) for first place in the Eastern Conference and improved to 2-1-0-0 against them this season.
Neither team scored in the first period despite Manchester holding a 22-5 shot advantage in the frame.
Hershey struck first when Jim O’Brien scored on the power play 5:09 into the second period. The man advantage was set up by a Jordan Weal holding penalty.
Sean Backman tied the score at 1-1 with his 17th goal of the season at 8:26 in the second. The goal was Backman’s second in as many games.
O’Brien scored his second goal of the night when he deflected a Dmitry Orlov shot from the point at 11:53.
Chandler Stephenson made the score 3-1 with a shorthanded goal at 13:09 when he broke down the left wing and beat J.F. Berube high glove side.
The Monarchs cut the lead to 3-2 just over a minute later when Mersch scored on a rebound opportunity at 16:48.
Zach O’Brien capped off a six-goal second period when he deflected in Jeff Schultz’s shot from the point at 19:45.
Mersch potted his second goal of the game when he scored on the power play 3:20 in the third period, giving the Monarchs a 4-3 lead. He completed the hat trick with a strike at 13:33, his 15th goal of the season.
Weal scored his 18th goal of the year at 15:58 in the third to finish the scoring.
The Monarchs and Bears will face off again tomorrow night at 7 p.m. Manchester finishes its road trip with a 3:05 p.m. game on Sunday at Lehigh Valley.
- Sean Backman (goal, assist) has seven goals and two assists over his last eight games beginning on Mar. 8.
- Chandler Stephenson’s shorthanded goal was just the third shorthanded goal allowed by the Monarchs this season. They came into tonight tied with Charlotte for the fewest SHG allowed this season.
- Tonight marked J.F. Berube’s 62nd career win, moving into sole possession of second place in Monarchs history behind Martin Jones (84 wins).
- Jordan Weal’s goal was the 166th point of his AHL career (56 goals, 110 assists), moving into a tie with JustinAzevedo for fifth place on the Monarchs’ all-time points list.
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