MANCHESTER 2, WORCESTER 1 (OT)
Defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov picked a dramatic time for his first AHL playoff goal, scoring 1:55 into overtime to send Manchester to the Eastern Conference Finals with a 2-1 win over Worcester in Game 6 of the teams’ second-round series on Friday night.
The Monarchs earned a six-game victory over the regular-season division-champion Sharks in the Atlantic Division Finals and advanced to the conference finals for the second time in four years.
Manchester will battle the powerhouse Hershey Bears for a berth in the Calder Cup Finals, with Game 1 of that series set for Wednesday in Hershey.
Looking to force a Game 7 back home, Worcester grabbed an early 1-0 lead when captain Ryan Vesce scored unassisted just 1:45 into the contest for his third goal of the playoffs.
The game remained deadlocked at 1-1 through the third period and into overtime before Voynov sealed the deal early in the first extra session. Andrei Loktionov and Bud Holloway picked up helpers on Voynov’s first goal since scoring vs. Providence on Apr. 3.
AHL goaltender of the year Jonathan Bernier turned aside 28 of 29 shots for the Monarchs, improving to 8-2 this postseason.
Worcester becomes the third consecutive Atlantic Division champion to fall short of the conference finals, following Hartford (2009) and Providence (2008).
The 2007 Monarchs were the last Atlantic champion to reach the third round, falling to Hershey in four games that year. Beginning Wednesday, Manchester will get another chance.
Atlantic Division Finals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
A1-Worcester Sharks vs. A3-Manchester Monarchs
Game 1 – Sun., Apr. 25 – WORCESTER 4, Manchester 3
Game 2 – Wed., Apr. 28 – Manchester 3, WORCESTER 2 (OT)
Game 3 – Fri., Apr. 30 – MANCHESTER 5, Worcester 0
Game 4 – Sat., May 1 – Worcester 3, MANCHESTER 2
Game 5 – Wed., May 5 – Manchester 1, WORCESTER 0
Game 6 – Fri., May 7 – MANCHESTER 2, Worcester 1 (OT)