Monarchs earn playoff spot despite loss

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Jake Wood takes a shot (credit – Rich Tilton)

MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Monarchs saw their seven-game winning streak broken on Saturday night, clinching a playoff spot despite their 5-3 loss to the Adirondack Thunder.

Adirondack’s first two goals went above the blocker of Manchester netminder Charles Williams. The first, from Ryan Schmelzer came on a power play late in the first period, with the second by Kenton Miller coming across the crease to the upper right side of the net three minutes into the second period.

Manchester’s Ashton Rome scored just over two minutes later, redirecting a Michael Doherty shot into the net, but Adirondack would regain their two-goal lead 11:30 into the second period with Shane Conacher’s 16th goal of the season.

Conacher would add another goal a few minutes later and the Thunder would get a fifth goal from Troy Bourke a few minutes after that, giving Bourke his third point of the night after assisting on both of Conacher’s goals.

Jared Kolquist earned his first goal as a Monarch 6:49 into the third with a wrister from the top of the right faceoff circle, but Manchester would be unable to make the most of their late momentum, with Doherty’s goal just two minutes before the end of regulation serving as the contest’s final tally.

The two teams ended with 38 shots a piece, with Manchester outshooting the Thunder 20-8 in the final frame, a contrast to the game’s first 40 minutes.

With the win, Adirondack will end the season with a winning record against the Monarchs, although the two teams play each other one last time in the regular season on April 6 at Cool Insuring Arena in Glen Falls, NY.

Both teams also find themselves in a dogfight for the ECHL North Division title as well, with Manchester’s 86-point tally putting them just two points ahead of Adirondack. Manchester has six games left in the regular season while Adirondack has five.

Despite the loss, the Worcester Railers’ 3-0 Saturday loss to Reading confirmed that Manchester can finish no lower than fourth in the North Division, ensuring their third straight trip to the ECHL playoffs.