Blogger note: Special to Bob Howard and the Power Play Post Show.
Heading into Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals, the Manchester Monarchs were 8-0 at home while the Utica Comets were 7-0 coming off of a playoff loss.
Something had to give.
Nic Dowd from the Manchester Monarchs continued the trend for the home team as the Manchester Monarchs take Game 2 by a 2-1 score and lead the best of seven series two games to none.
There were lineup changes for both sides. Kevin Raine drew in for the injured Jeff Schultz on defense for the Monarchs and Nicklas Jensen drew in the lineup for Wacey Hamilton at forward.
No change in goal for either side, as it was Jacob Markstrom for the Comets and J-F Berube for the Monarchs in net.
A much tighter first period defensively for the Comets ultimately saw Zach O’Brien break though on a power play goal in the final minute of the first period at 19:05.
Utica brought the affair level with a goal by Nicklas Jensen unassisted at 1:12 of the second period on a Monarchs turnover. Jensen had been a scratch for the past three games for the Comets but made his appearance in Game 2 count in scoring the tying goal. Neither team was able to capitalize during long stretches of power play time awarded by the referees.
Machester outshot the visitors 8-3 in the third period, but were unable to solve Jacob Markstrom. Utica controlled pace in the first half of the third period, but the Monarchs wrested away the momentum and managed everything they had to re-gain the lead.
The Monarchs were gift wrapped a power play to open overtime when Peter Andersson cleared the puck over the glass in his own end with one second left in regulation. However, the Monarchs did not score.
Finally, Nic Dowd tracked down a David Van der Gulick clearing attempt and was in a foot race with Utica’s Cory Conacher in the corner, to the right of Markstom. Dowd out hustled Conacher, spun towards the net, threw a shot on goal the Markstrom stopped, but no one picked him up in front, Markstrom never corralled the rebound and Dowd poked the game winner home falling down.
Three stars were Zach O’Brien with a goal, J-F Berube with 24 saves on 25 shots and Nic Dowd with an assist and the game winning goal.
Now the Comets face an unenviable task of trying to beat the Manchester Monarchs four times with five tries remaining. For a Manchester team that has only lost back to back games in the Calder Cup Playoffs just once (Portland in the Conference Quarterfinals) the Cup is almost theirs.
But the Monarchs face a sellout crowd and a Utica fan base which will have the Utica Memorial Auditorium packed to the gills on Wednesday night when this series resumes in Utica, NY for Game 3.
Notes: This was Utica’s 8th overtime game, they were 3-4 in the previous seven contests…. Manchester was a perfect 2-0 in overtime coming into overtime tonight… Attendance for Game 2 was 6,078.