Monarchs face do-or-die on Friday in Exeter

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Manchester’s Stephan Falkovsky (in black) and Newfoundland’s Alex Gudbranson face off (credit – Andrew Sylvia)

MANCHESTER, N.H. –  The Manchester Monarchs may have played their final game at SNHU Arena, falling 4-3 to go down three games to one in their best-of-seven series with the Newfoundland Growlers.

Manchester struck first thanks to Cam Ward’s quick thinking as the puck rebounded off the pads of Newfoundland goaltender Michael Garteig.

That score, coming 11:28 into the first period, held firm until Josh Kestner’s equalizer 6:50 into the second.

Perhaps one of Newfoundland’s greatest strengths this season has been the ability to lull their opponents into a false sense of security, and the North Division champs pulled that off again to a tee later on in the period, putting away a pair of unassuming but well-executed power-play goals from Zach O’Brien and Brady Ferguson.

Then, straight off the faceoff following Ferguson’s goal, Pierre-Luc turned a lucky bounce into a breakaway, beating Garteig and putting the game back within reach.

Georgio Estephan added a third Growlers’ power-play goal 5:25 into the third, but again the Monarchs responded quickly, as Mercier poked the puck just past the right post for his second tally of the night.

Manchester pulled goaltender Charles Williams for just under a minute and a half, but could not find one final goal, with Newfoundland taking down Manchester for the ninth time in 11 matchups over the playoffs and regular season.

The Monarchs look to keep their season alive in Game 5, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday night at The Rinks in Exeter.