Monarchs blank Norfolk in opener

( — Left wing Sean Backman and right wing Zach O’Brien both scored to help the Manchester Monarchs defeat the Norfolk Admirals in Game 1 of the 2014 Calder Cup Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, 2-0, at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday night.

Manchester leads the series, one game to none, with Game 2 set for Saturday.

“They gave us all we can handle,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “We had some timely goals there. It was nice to get the insurance goal there. I thought (Michael) Mersch chipping the puck off the wall and making the pass to Backman was a big time goal. I also thought (John) Gibson played very well for them, but I thought (Jean-Francois) Berube played very well for us too. He was a big reason why there was a goose egg on our side.”

Backman lit the lamp with his first goal of the postseason in the first period. Center Jordan Weal won the face-off and shot a pass to Mersch who was positioned along the left wing. Mersch took the puck up the left wing boards and passed the puck to the front of the net. Backman proceeded to tap the puck by Gibson to give the Monarchs a 1-0 lead at 11:38 of the first period.

O’Brien secured the win for the Monarchs with an insurance goal late in the third period. Left wing Andy Andreoff passed the puck to O’Brien who came across the net and fired a wrist shot passed Gibson on his glove side. O’Brien’s first goal of the playoffs put the Monarchs up 2-0 at 18:40 of the third period. Defenseman Brayden McNabb also assisted on the goal.

Berube (1-0) earned his first win of the post-season and his inaugural shutout of the playoffs, stopping all 30 shots. Gibson (0-1) took his first loss of the playoffs, making 24 saves on 26 shots he faced in the game.

Manchester was 0-for-4 on the power play. Norfolk went 0-for-3 with the man advantage.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “A” (best-of-5)
1-Manchester Monarchs vs. 8-Norfolk Admirals
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 25 – MANCHESTER 2, Norfolk 0
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 26 – Norfolk at Manchester, 7:00
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 30 – Manchester at Norfolk, 7:15
*Game 4 – Fri., May 2 – Manchester at Norfolk, 7:30
*Game 5 – Sat., May 3 – Manchester at Norfolk, 7:15
   *if necessary… All times Eastern