MANCHESTER, N.H. – Martin Jones turned aside 37 shots, including all 14 he faced in the third period, to help the Manchester Monarchs hold off a furious HERSHEY BEARS rally in a 4-3 victory on Saturday night at Verizon Wireless Arena.
The host Monarchs took all of 1:49 to take control of the game offensively. After forcing a turnover on the right half wall, Linden Vey dropped a pass to the point. Vincent LoVerde slid a feed across the blue line for Derek Forbort, and the rookie let fly with a slap shot that eluded Dany Sabourin over the blocker at 8:05 for a 1-0 lead.
Manchester expanded their lead at 9:21, when Brandon Kozun’s pass found its way to Chris Huxley at the center point. Huxley hurried a snap shot on goal that beat Sabourin high.
Just 33 seconds later, the Bears deficit hit three goals after Vey knocked down a clearing pass along the left boards. Vey quickly tipped a pass to a cutting Andy Andreoff who deked to the backhand and slipped a shot by Sabourin from the right circle.
The Bears came out flying in the second period and quickly cut the Monarchs lead to one. First, Joey Crabb set up at the top of the Monarchs goal crease to one-time a feed by Ryan Potulny past Jones at 3:38.
At 6:29, rookie blueliner Nate Schmidt was set up perfectly at the right point by Boyd Kane, and ripped a blast off the arm of Jones and into the net for his first professional goal.
The Monarchs created some pressure of their own and regained their two-goal edge at 11:34. On a give-and-go in the left corner, Hunter Bishop backed into the left circle, took a pass from David Meckler and one-timed it under Sabourin’s left pad.
The Bears again clawed back to within one goal on another forced turnover in the neutral zone by Crabb. Jeff Taffe picked up Crabb’s pass, and then fed Julien Brouillette who joined the rush. From the left faceoff circle, Brouillette’s wrist shot snuck in short-side on Jones at 15:12.
The Bears outshot the Monarchs 14-5 in the final period but could not get the equalizer past Jones.
Sabourin stopped 17 of 21 shots and fell to 9-13-3 on the season. Jones improved to 24-25-4 with the victory. The Bears ended the night 0-for-4 on the power play and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill.
With four games left in the regular season, the Bears sit tied with the Monarchs for ninth in the Eastern Conference with a record of 33-30-3-6 (75 points), four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
The Bears finish their road trip through New England with a 4:00 PM faceoff against the Portland Pirates tomorrow, April 14 at Cumberland County Civic Center. The Bears will play their final home game of the regular season on Sunday, April 21 at 5:00 against the Manchester Monarchs. All fans in attendance will receive a complimentary pass to HERSHEYPARK valid through July 4, 2013. Tickets may be purchased at the GIANT Center box office, by calling (717) 508-BEAR or online at TicketMaster.com.