Monarchs win not enough for division title

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Sam Kurker earlier in the season (credit – Rich Tilton)

WORCESTER, Mass. – The Manchester Monarchs won the battle, but they lost the war. Fortunately, they’ve got another war coming up in just a few days.

Manchester concluded their regular season on Sunday with a 2-0 victory against the Worcester Railers, giving the Monarchs their eighth win out of 15 contests against Worcester this season.

Once again, the Monarchs got off to a slow start, but unlike the previous night’s affair between these two teams in Manchester, Worcester was unable to capitalize in the first period.

Sam Kurker would make the Railers pay in the second period, putting the Monarchs on the board just under four minutes before the second intermission in his first game back from the AHL.

Ultimately, that would be all Manchester would need, but Michael Doherty would add an empty net goal with just under two minutes left in the contest to secure the victory.

The game also marked the return of Tony Turgeon, who faced a 20-game suspension in the AHL this season for violating the league’s performance enhancing substances program.

Turgeon tangled with Yanick Turcotte late in the third period in what was the game’s second fight and Turcotte’s league leading 20th fight of the season, 11 of which came in games against the Monarchs.

With the addition of Kurker and Turgeon, the contest was also notable for the absence of both teams’ leading scorers: Manchester’s Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman and Worcester’s Barry Almeida.

LaVallee-Smotherman finishes the regular season with 34 goals, second only to Kalamazoo’s Justin Taylor and Colorado’s Michael Joly.

In spite of the win, Adirondack’s 6-2 victory earlier in the day dashed Manchester’s hopes of an ECHL North Division crown, a division title that seemed almost certain before Manchester’s recent six-game losing streak.

The Monarchs will look to recover on Friday as they host the Reading Royals at 7 p.m. in the first game of their ECHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.