Top Line Powers Monarchs Past Penguins

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Jordan Weal's seven goals this postseason are tied for the most in the AHL.
The Manchester Monarchs' top players are leading the way and have given the Monarchs a 2-0 series lead after a 5-2 win in Game Two Thursday night in the AHL's Eastern Conference Semifinals.

The Monarchs' top line of Michael Mersch, Jordan Weal and Brian O'Neill were deadly in Game Two - combining for four goals and five assists in the win for Manchester. The Monarchs tallied first again tonight and have not trailed the Penguins yet this series.

A three-goal span in 24 seconds in the middle period gave the Penguins hope at a 2-2 tie, but the Monarchs' top line continued to pour it on in the 5-2 win. Jean-Francois Berube picked up his third consecutive postseason win with 18 stops on 20 shots, while Penguins netminder Matt Murray picked up his second straight loss - stopping 29 of the 33 shots he faced.

The series now shifts back to Wilkes-Barre for the next three games (Game Five if necessary), with Game Three coming Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. ET at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.


The first period of Game Two was a more tight-checking and physical affair than the first frame just 24 hours prior. The Penguins were again hemmed in their own zone at times, but were able to keep the game scoreless until the 9:28 mark when Manchester's potent top line of Michael Mersch, Jordan Weal and Brian O'Neill made their presence felt.

O'Neill tallied his 5th of the playoffs from Merch and Weal and the Monarchs took the 1-0 lead and a 12-5 shot advantage into the middle frame.

A pretty wild series in the 2nd period saw the two teams combine for three goals in a 24-second span.

First, Conor Sheary got a shot past J-F Berube on a Penguins power play to even the score with helpers from Andrew Ebbett and Scott Wilson. Just 10 seconds after the Penguins tied it at 1-1, Justin Auger took some open ice and beat Matt Murray to put the Monarchs back in front at 2-1. Another 14 seconds after Auger gave the Monarchs another one-goal lead, Tom Kuhnhackl setup Dominik Uher for his 2nd of the postseason to even things back up - this time at 2-2.

The tie was again short lived as the Monarchs' top line struck again. Jordan Weal one-timed a puck past Murray for his 6th of the playoffs with 2:57 left before the second intermission to put the Monarchs back on top by a goal.

It seemed that every time the Penguins would respond to tie things up, that the Monarchs answered right back to re-gain the lead much like they did in Game One Wednesday night. The Monarchs were out-shooting the Penguins 24-12 heading to the final frame with another one-goal lead in the postseason.

The Monarchs didn't let off the gas as many teams do when up by a goal in the third period. Instead, they made it a two-goal game 5:24 into the final frame after a Derrick Pouliot penalty allowed Jordan Weal to tally his second of the night and seventh of the postseason.

The Penguins were hemmed in their own zone most of the first half of the third, but were unable to generate much offense on back-to-back power plays in the final 9:46 of regulation. Brian O'Neill tallied his second of the night - an empty netter with 2:03 left - to complete the 5-2 final score.


Matt Murray (29 saves - 33 shots) got the start in net for the Penguins tonight in Game One, with veteran Jeff Zatkoff serving as the team's backup.

No changes on defense for the Penguins again tonight, but there were a few changes up front.
Kasperi Kapanen, who was seen trailing the play on the Monarchs' game-winning goal in triple overtime last night, was scratched as was Pierre-Luc Leblond.

Josh Archibald, who took warmups in Game One but was the last healthy scratch, took Kapanen's spot on the 2nd line right-wing. Oskar Sundqvist made his North American pro debut on the 4th line in place of Leblond.

WBS Scratches: Eric Hartzell, Tristan Jarry, Harrison Ruopp, Sean Escobedo, Alex Boak,, Nick Drazenovic, Bryan Rust, Danny Syvret, Nick D’Agostino, Ryan Parent, Adam Payerl, Piere-Luc Leblond, Sahir Gill, Clark Seymour and Kasperi Kapanen.


Conor Sheary - Andrew Ebbett - Tom Kostopoulos
Scott Wilson - Jayson Megna - Josh Archibald
Tom Kuhnhackl - Carter Rowney - Dominik Uher
Bobby Farnham - Jean Sebastien Dea - Oskar Sundqvist

Taylor Chorney - Brian Dumoulin
Scott Harrington - Barry Goers
Reid McNeill - Derrick Pouliot

Matt Murray - Jeff Zatkoff


Jean-Francois Berube (18 shots - 20 saves) got the start in net for the Monarchs in Game One, with rookie Patrik Bartosak serving as the team's backup.

Only one lineup change for the Monarchs from Game One as Ryan Horvat returned to the lineup up front on the 4th line for Josh Gratton.

MCH Scratches: Stephen Mastalerz, Jonny Brodzinski, Josh Gratton, Paul Bissonnette, Nick Ebert, Scott Sabourin, Kevin Raine and Alex Lintuniemi


Michael Mersch - Jordan Weal - Brian O'Neill
Adrian Kempe - Nick Shore - Sean Backman
David Van Der Gulik - Nic Dowd - Zach O'Brien
Ryan Horvat - Andrew Crescenzi - Justin Auger

Vincent LoVerde - Andrew Bodnarchuk
Colin Miller - Jeff Schultz
Derek Forbort - Kevin Gravel

Jean-Francois Berube - Patrik Bartosak


1st Period

4:34: WBS - Chorney, minor (roughing)
4:34: MCH - Shore, minor (unsportsmanlike)
9:28: MCH - O'Neill (5) - Mersch, Weal
18:44: MCH - (PP) LoVerde, minor (hooking)

2nd Period

11:33: MCH - (PP) Schultz, minor (delay of game)
12:29: WBS - PPG Sheary (4) - Ebbett, Wilson
12:38: MCH - Auger (1) - Crescenzi
12:52: WBS - Uher (2) - Kuhnhackl
17:03: MCH - Weal (6) - O'Neill, Mersch
17:03: MCH - Weal, minor (roughing)
17:03: WBS - Kostopoulos, minor (roughing)
17:03: WBS - (PP) Kostopoulos, minor (cross-checking)

3rd Period

4:52: WBS - (PP) Pouliot, minor (cross-checking)
5:24: MCH - PPG Weal (7) - Mersch, Miller
10:14: MCH - (PP) O'Neill, minor (tripping)
14:04: MCH - (PP) Auger, minor (cross-checking)
17:57: MCH - ENG O'Neill (6) - Shore, Van Der Gulik
19:00: WBS - Kostopoulos, minor (roughing)
19:00: MCH - Bodnarchuk, minor (roughing)


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