Well, they say that first impressions count for a lot. The first time you come home with an “A” paper. That first kiss in the tree fort out in your back yard and of course the first time you witness a credulous, proficient hockey team playing in your own rink.
Fans of the Lowell Lock Monsters got just that this past weekend. They were treated to what looks like an superbly experienced hockey club.
What’s diffrent, you might ask? Almost everything is the answer. The Lowell Lock Monsters are newly affiliated with the Carolina Hurricanes. Which means a complete new team (mostly comprised of former IHL Cinncinatti Cyclones), new uniforms (incorporates the Carolina look) a new head coach,assistant coach,trainer, front office staff..so on and so forth. Most noticible though, is a new winning attitude.
Games played this week featured division rivals Manchester Monarchs and long time foes St. John Leafs.
Lowell 6 Manchester 3
Home town hero Greg Koehler opened the scoring, taking a pretty dish from between the net from Mike Zigomanis, with a one-timer in front at 6:38. Lowell and Manchester both played with a lot of pep but Lowell seemed to get the breaks when they were needed.
Manchester scored 55 seconds apart on tallies by Jerred Smithson and Eric Healey to go up 2-1.
Newly appointed captain Byron Ritchie would put Lowell ahead. Ritchie scored the final two goals of the period, including a shorthanded tally with 10 seconds left that deflected off the stick of Tomas Zizka and between Fiset’s pads.
Ritchie’s first came at 13:34 when a Jaroslav Svoboda pass left Ritchie all alone.
Jean-Marc Pelletier, who didn’t look sharp in the first period, gave up a soft goal on a 40-foot wrist shot by ex-Lock Monster enforcer Andre Payette at 8:09 of the middle stanza.
With 7:24 left in the second, Fiset stacked the pads to absolutely rob Ritchie’s bid for his hat trick.
Ritchie, however, got his revenge later in the period. Carrying the puck into the Manchester zone, he darted left and, without notice, fired the puck back to his right. The pass found Tomas Kurka and Kurka found the back of the net at 17:44 to regain Lowell’s lead at 4-3.
Pelletier (24 saves) made several fine saves in the early stages of the third, including robbing Brad Chartrand on a wrist shot bid. With 7:18 left, his counterpart, Fiset, was removed from the Monarchs’ cage after a conference with trainer Chris Kingsley. It was later reported Fiset had a bout with dehydration.
On came ex-Lock Monster Marcel Cousineau. Counsineau made his presence felt immediately, denying Harlan Pratt from the doorstep.
Two empty-netters late in the game would seal Manchester’s fate. Ian Macneil’s empty net set off a visbly upset Adam Mair so much that he was awarded a ten minute misconduct.
Lowell 3 St. John’s 2
Lowell posted its second straight home win of the
opening weekend of the American Hockey League season, holding on for a 3-2 victory over the St. John’s Maple Leafs.
Greg Koehler (1 assist), Byron Ritchie and Ian MacNeil scored the Lock Monster goals.
Tyler Moss had a strong game in goal for Lowell. Moss finished with 39 saves.
St. John’s goal-scorers were Alexei Ponikarovsky and Paul Healey. Maple Leaf netminder Mikael Tellqvist made 32 saves.
The Lock Monsters took a 2-1 lead when Ritchie scored Lowell’s second power-play goal of the night at 7:07 of the final period.
Harlan Pratt’s drive from the point deflected to Ritchie and he drove a low shot past Tellqvist.
Ritchie had two goals and an assist in Lowell’s season-opening 6-3 victory over the Manchester Monarchs on Friday.
The Lock Monsters doubled their lead 52 seconds after Ritchie’s goal as MacNeil potted what proved to be the winning score at 7:59.
The Maple Leafs trimmed the deficit to 3-2 on Healey’s power-play goal with 6:09 left to play.
Lowell took a 1-0 lead on Koehler’s power-play goal at 4:09. The Maple Leafs came right back and tied the score on a power-play goal of their own at 5:28.
Healey fed a pass out of the right corner to Ponikarovsky, and he tapped the puck past Moss from just outside the crease.
Lowell had several chances to regain the lead, but Tellqvist was equal to the challenge, turning away quality scoring bids by Ritchie, Brian Felsner and Koehler.
The Lock Monsters were outshot 15-7 during a scoreless first period. The Maple Leafs carried the play much of the period, but couldn’t stick the puck past Moss, who had to turn away several point-blank shots. The Monsters hung on for the final tally of 3-2.
Confidence was evident by the fans who witnessed the new look monsters, and the intense brand of hockey they play.
Make sure to visit the AHL Report at www.ahlreport.com!