WHEELING, WV – A pair of first period goals doomed the Manchester Monarchs for the second night in a row, as they fell to the Wheeling Nailers, 2-1, Saturday night at the WesBanco Arena.
The Nailers (35-26-4-4) evened up the season series with the Monarchs (38-23-4-5) at one game apiece, and held serve in the congested bottom four of the Eastern Conference playoff structure.
Wheeling took the early lead when Riley Brace scored his 26th goal of the season at 2:47 of the first period. Brace found the rebound from a Mathew Maione shot that ricocheted off the high glass on his stick to the right of the goal, and made no mistake, beating a down-and-out Monarchs goaltender, Colin Stevens, for the early Nailers lead.
Wheeling doubled their advantage when Justin McCarron scored his 12th goal of the season at 13:06 in the first period. McCarron took a pass from Chris Wydo at the blue line, drifted to the mid-slot and wristed home a goal over the glove shoulder of Stevens, making the game, 2-0, Wheeling.The Monarchs cut into the Nailers lead at 9:31 of the second period when Matt Fornataro scored his 9th goal of the season. Joey Diamond began the tic-tac-toe passing play that Fornataro finished, sending a wrist shot over the glove of Wheeling goaltender, Franky Palazzese, bringing the Monarchs back, 2-1.
The Monarchs fought hard in the third period, but couldn’t solve Palazzese again, falling by a 2-1 final score.
The Monarchs return to the Jungle on April 8 (7 p.m.), when they host the Adirondack Thunder in the last regular season home game of the season on Fan Appreciation Night.
- Maxim Kitsyn recorded his 130th career point and 60th career assist on Fornataro’s goal
- Yann Sauvé made his return to the Monarchs lineup after being loaned to Manchester by the Stockton Heat (AHL)
- Joey Diamond dropped the gloves for the first time since March 8