There will be no more trips to Portland this season for the Manchester Monarchs.
Two goals from Trevor Lewis, a flurry of scores late in the third period and a stellar performance from goalie Jonathan Bernier made sure of that.
The Monarchs scored in bunches in the second and third period to defeat the Portland Pirates 7-2 Tuesday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena, needing just four games to win the best-of-seven series in the opening round of the Calder Cup playoffs. The series sweep is the first in Manchester team history, and its just the second time the Monarchs have advanced past the first round (2007).
Manchester will wait to face the winner of the Lowell-Worcester series, which Worcester leads 3-1.
Despite the Monarchs’ margin of victory in Game 4, it was still in doubt into the third period, much like the first three games of the series and many of the regular-season meetings.
“I thought they should be real proud of their effort,” Manchester coach Mark Morris said. “It was the bounce of a puck here and there in the first three games. Right up to the third period, it was never a sure thing. We got a couple goals to give us some breathing room. They’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. They competed well.”
After a first period that saw the Pirates put 22 shots on Bernier – who finished with 44 saves – the Monarchs didn’t have to wait long after the start of the second to get on the board.
Lewis picked up his second goal of the playoffs just 31 seconds into the frame as he shot the puck from an odd angle to the right of Portland goalie Todd Ford.
“I just shot the puck and luckily it found a way in,” Lewis said. “I think it really started our guys going.”
It took nearly 12 minutes for Lewis to get his second goal, this time on the power play. As Oscar Moller moved the puck behind the Portland net, Lewis waited in front. Moller fed him the puck and Lewis one-timed the pass into the net.
Bud Holloway added what proved to be the game-winner – Holloway’s fourth game-winner in the series – just 42 seconds later, knocking the rebound of a Dwight King shot into an open net for a 3-0 lead.
Kevin Westgarth made it 4-0 less than two minutes later, when his pass attempt across the top of the crease deflected off Kyle Rank and went back to Westgarth. Ford had already started to change direction and couldn’t get back in time.
Nathan Gerbe and Mark Mancari both scored to get Portland back in the game, the second of which made it a 4-2 game with 7:50 to play.
But goals by Moller, Andrew Campbell and Joe Piskula in the final three minutes of the game put an end to the series.
“Portland was not a rink that we’d had a whole lot of success in this year aside from the playoffs,” Drew Bagnall said. “We didn’t realize how desperate they were going to be. It was our first time playing a team with their back against a wall. As much as you talk about it, it’s hard to get a grasp on it until you see that desperation. It took us a while to snap out of it.”