The St. John's IceCaps Carl Klingberg (centre) tries to gain position on the Manchester Monarchs' Thomas Hickey (37) and Brandon Kozun (right) as they chase a loose puck during the teams' American Hockey League game at Mile One Centre on Friday night. The IceCaps won 3-2. The teams play their rubber match tonight, 7:30, at Mile One. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
The St. John's IceCaps rallied for four unanswered goals to solve a hot goaltender and register their 20th win of the season in a highly-entertaining 4-2 win over the Manchester Monarchs in American Hockey League play Friday night.
Before another sold out crowd of 6,297 at Mile One Centre, Shawn Weller celebrated his return to the IceCaps' lineup after missing 10 games with two goals, including the tying and game-winning goals.
Jason DeSantis and Jason Jaffray, with 55 seconds to go to seal the deal, also scored for St. John's, which improved to 20-8-4-1 on the year.
The win also vaulted the IceCaps past the Monarchs, affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, into first place in the AHL's Atlantic Division.
Robbie Czarnik and Linden Vey had the Manchester goals.
While Weller's return was the storyline for St. John's, the main man for the Monarchs was goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, who made 43 saves, including 19 in the second period.
Czarnik scored the only goal in the opening period of play, when he was Robbie on the spot at the side of the IceCaps net, banging home a loose puck into an open cage.
It stayed 1-0 Manchester into the first-period intermission.
Vey staked the Monarchs to a 2-0 lead six minutes into the second period on a similar play to Czarnik's goal. Vey, on the off wing, had an open net to cash in his 10th goal of the year past David Aebischer.
DeSantis finally got the IceCaps on the scoreboard at 9:27 of the second, his shot from the blueline finally beating Zatkoff.
Weller made it a 2-2 game at 10:52, when Brett Festerling's shot from the blueline rebounded off the big IceCaps forward, who had been knocked to the ice.
The Glens Falls, N.Y. native got the go-ahead goal - and eventual game-winner - at 8:51 of the third period, racing down the left wing and surprising Zatkoff with a shot that beat the Monarchs goalie to the stick side.
With time ticking down, and the Monarchs pressing, Jaffray put Manchester away when Aaron Gagnon's pass deflected off the IceCaps captain's skate and past Zatkoff.
At the other end of the ice, Aebischer finished with 23 saves to improve to 9-3-1 on the year.
The teams go at it again tonight, starting 7:30 p.m.