Monarchs rally for OT win, cut deficit to 2-1

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Trailing 2-0 in the series and 2-0 in the game, Manchester responded with three straight goals to take a 3-2 win over Hershey in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday at Verizon Wireless Arena.

Justin Azevedo notched the game-winner just 2:43 into the extra session, sending the Monarchs to their first-ever victory in the conference finals round after losing six straight games to the Bears.

With the victory, the Monarchs cut their series deficit to 2-1 heading into Game 4 on Tuesday night. Monday’s victory also guarantees that the series will extend to Game 5 in Manchester on Thursday.

Alexandre Giroux put Hershey on top with a power play goal 17:26 into the first period, and after a scoreless second, Mathieu Perreault extended the Bears’ edge to 2-0 at 3:55 of the third frame. Chris Bourque assisted on both markers to take over the league lead with 20 points (6-14-20) in 12 postseason contests.

But staring in the face of a daunting 3-0 series deficit, Manchester battled back. John Zeiler put the home team on the board at 5:44 of the third, and Gabe Gauthier followed with the equalizer only 1:38 later.

Gauthier has now netted a goal in four straight games (5-0-5) and six of his last seven contests (7-1-8).

The teams remained deadlocked at 2-2 until Azevedo’s game-winner early in the overtime period, which was assisted by rookie D.J. King.

Manchester improved to 4-1 in overtime this postseason while handing the Bears their first overtime loss after five straight victories. Hershey’s seven-game winning streak overall also came to an end, as the Bears fell for the first time since a 4-1 loss at Bridgeport on Apr. 18 in Game 4 of the division semifinals.

Monarchs goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 23 saves between the pipes and improved to a perfect 9-0 this postseason when he allows two or fewer goals in a game.

Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. A3-Manchester Monarchs

Game 1 – Wed., May 12 – HERSHEY 4, Manchester 2
Game 2 – Sat., May 15 – HERSHEY 3, Manchester 2 (OT)
Game 3 – Mon., May 17 – MANCHESTER 3, Hershey 2 (OT)
Game 4 – Tue., May 18 – Hershey at Manchester, 7:00
Game 5 – Thu., May 20 – Hershey at Manchester, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., May 22 – Manchester at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Sun., May 23 – Manchester at Hershey, 5:00