In contrast to their early November hot streak, the Manchester Monarchs dropped their second straight on Friday night, falling 2-1 at home to the Worcester Railers.
The Monarchs got on the board early, with Matt Leitner casually poking home a rebound just 25 seconds into the contest.
Manchester’s Sam Kurker almost turned in the second goal, hitting the post on a breakaway just as time expired, but that honor instead would go to Worcester captain Ashton Rome past the midway point of the second period.
Rome placed himself in front and slightly to the left of Manchester netminder Charles Williams, leaving himself in a perfect position to capitalize on a oblique deflection off Williams’ pads.
Indeed, it perhaps was only a matter of time before the Railers tied up the contest, almost doubling the Monarchs’ shots-on-goal total by that point, slowly gaining momentum following the Monarchs’ early strike.
A bad pass just before the end of the period let Worcester take the lead, with the Railers’ Matthew Gaudreau turning the stolen puck into an unassisted short-handed goal to seal the Railers’ victory.
The Monarchs have played more games than all but three teams in the ECHL so far this year, including 10 games in 16 days.
Worcester and Manchester will play each other ten more times this season, with the next matchup occurring on Sunday afternoon at the DCU Center.
“We didn’t quite have the jump we wanted, we have a busy schedule,” said Manchester Monarchs head coach Richard Seeley. “We’re working through that a little bit. But I don’t know if that’s an excuse, especially on a Friday night. We should have better legs, but maybe that’s a conversation for Sunday.”
With the loss, Manchester ceded the ECHL North Division lead to Wheeling, who defeated Norfolk earlier in the evening, 6-2.
Manchester is now two points behind Wheeling and five points behind the Florida Everblades in the ECHL Eastern Conference standings, with Florida defeating Jacksonville 3-1 in other action on Friday night.
Prior to Sunday’s rematch against Worcester, the Monarchs will host the Adirondack Thunder at 6 p.m. on Saturday.