MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Monarchs winning streak is now at six games following their 4-1 victory over Reading on Wednesday night.
It looked like Reading’s Matt Willows scored the game’s first goal just over seven minutes into the contest. However, as he let his slapshot fly from the blueline, referee Jeremy Tufts determined that Royals players were guilty of a high sticking infraction near the Monarchs’ crease, nullifying the goal.
Instead, the honor of the game’s first goal would instead go to Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman. At the first period’s 16:50 mark, he calmly deposited the puck through the right-hand side of Reading goaltender Anthony Stolarz.
Neither side could contribute much from there until LaVallee-Smotherman added another goal directly off an offensive zone faceoff 9:49 into the third.
Spencer Watson’s oblique angle power play goal gave the Monarchs a three-goal lead, but Monarchs netminder Charles Williams couldn’t seal the shutout, as Willow would find his way to the back of the net with just under four minutes before the final horn.
Willows’ goal was enough to convince the Royals to send out an extra skater for one final push, a push that sputtered thanks to Michael Doherty’s casual empty net goal with just under two minutes left.
Doherty’s goal was made possible thanks to the efforts of Colton Saucerman, who contributed four shots and two assists in his first game back from the AHL.
Monarchs head coach Richard Seeley was disappointed Williams couldn’t grab a much-deserved shutout and frustrated at what he saw as some selfish penalties. Overall though, he was happy with the overall performance of a squad that looked more comfortable than they did against Utah last week.
“We used the word connected a lot, we played together as a group tonight,” he said. “A couple of times in the first period, maybe there was a little bit of a layer between our forwards and our defensemen through the neutral zone, but after that our forwards tracked pretty well in the neutral zone and our D-men had some good gaps.”
With Worcester’s shootout victory over Wheeling later in the night, the Monarchs could clinch a playoff berth on Friday if they can avoid a loss against Adirondack and Worcester doesn’t obtain victory by the end of regulation against Reading.
However, that fact is not in Seeley’s mind, outside of any impact it might provide to the current moment.
“We’re just worried about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” he said. “With playoffs on the horizon we’re just hone in and dial in a lot of our attention to detail.”