MANCHESTER, NH – The 2017-’18 Manchester Monarchs season has officially concluded, but it did not go out quietly.
Manchester lost 3-2 to the Adirondack Thunder in triple overtime on Monday night, giving the Thunder the 2017-’18 ECHL North Division championship and their second series win over Manchester in three years.
Perhaps spurred on by Sunday night’s woeful performance in addition the team’s precarious situation in the series, Manchester played with a sense of urgency early on and it quickly paid dividends.
Following an absence on Sunday, Monarchs captain David Kolomatis returned to the lineup and provided the contest’s first goal just 1:57 into the contest.
Kolomatis set up shop right at the intersection of the blue line and the boards on the left hand side of Adirondack goaltender Drew Fielding.
From there, Kolomatis slapped the puck along the ice, where it briefly nicked Fielding’s leg pad before sliding into the net.
However, Kolomatis also played a role in negating that lead, with the Thunder capitalizing on the power play created through his tripping penalty.
That goal came 9:22 into the first period courtesy of Dylan Olsen, who deftly slotted the puck home just in front of the blue line halfway between both boards.
Kolomatis gave the Monarchs another lead in the second period, again from near the blue line past Fielding’s left side, but the Thunder again responded quickly.
This time, Brian Ward caught a piece of Blake Thompson’s slapshot, deflecting the puck into the inner portion of the post and inward past Manchester netminder Charles Williams.
Matthew Brodeur finally finished the contest 9:08 into the third overtime period, coming quick up the left-hand side for a fast break slapshot that slipped by Williams.
Fielding ended the game with 53 saves, including countless moments where the Monarchs could and should have won the game, especially at key moments
“When you look back now quickly, you have a 5-on-3 with four minutes left in the third period, you have to find the back of the net, that’s the bottom line there,” said Monarchs head coach Richard Seeley. “We had lots of good looks, lots of good opportunities to put it away and they didn’t, give them some credit, they hung around.”
Compared to the goaltending collapses in Game 2, 3 and 5, Williams performed admirably with 29 saves. That tally may pale to Fielding’s performance, but he was crucial to keeping Manchester in the contest so long.
“(Williams) gave us a chance to win, that’s what you ask out of your goaltenders,” said Seeley. “He gave us a chance to win all the way into triple overtime, so hats off to him.”
In addition to meeting in the playoffs during the prior two seasons, the Monarchs and the Thunder have met each other 20 times this season between the regular season and the playoffs with the Thunder winning 13 of those contests.
Adirondack now faces the Florida Everblades in the ECHL Eastern Conference Finals, after Florida eliminated the Orlando Solar Bears on Sunday to win the ECHL South Division title.
A schedule has not yet been released, although Florida will hold home ice advantage, winning the Brabham Cup for the league’s best regular season record.