Monarchs pick up big victory
MANCHESTER - Manchester Monarchs defenseman Derek Forbort got his first taste of professional hockey in Friday night's 3-1 victory over the Connecticut Whale.
The Los Angeles Kings selected Forbort with the 15th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, and he spent the last three seasons playing for the University of North Dakota. Forbort signed a three-year deal with the Kings on April 5.
"I thought I played solid," Forbort said. "The pace was a lot faster than college, but the players are much smarter, so that makes it a little easier.
"I think I'm a good, solid defenseman who likes to move pucks. Defense is my first priority out there."
Forbort, who had three practices with the Monarchs before Friday night's game, collected six goals and 39 assists in 115 games with North Dakota. He earned a bronze medal with Team USA at the 2011 World Junior Championship, and a gold medal at the 2010 Under-18 championship.
"In watching Derek's game, I thought he played a very steady, reliable game back there," Manchester coach Mark Morris said. "He didn't look like he was in awe. He looked pretty comfortable.
"He made a couple really nice outlet passes under pressure. His decision-making tonight was really good. If that's any indication of the way he can play he's got a bright career."
Manchester trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes, but carried a 2-1 advantage into the third.
Left wing Chris Kreider scored Connecticut's goal, which came during a Connecticut power play at 18:50 of the first period. Manchester pulled even on Jordan Weal's power-play goal with 2:55 left in the second. Weal has collected a goal in each of his last four games.
Manchester grabbed a 2-1 lead when Tanner Pearson scored with 1:03 left in the second, and sealed the victory when Brandon Kozun scored into an empty net during a Manchester power play with 36.9 seconds left.
The Monarchs entered the game in a three-way tie for 10th place in the Eastern Conference, which will send the top eight teams to the Calder Cup playoffs. Before Friday night's games, Hershey and Norfolk were tied for eighth place, four points ahead of Manchester. On Friday night, Hershey lost to Providence and Norfolk beat Worcester, leaving the Monarchs four points behind eighth-place Norfolk and two points behind ninth-place Hershey. The Monarchs have five regular-season games remaining.
The Monarchs have two players on their roster who played at Yale, which will face Quinnipiac in tonight's NCAA Division I hockey championship game. Right wing Brian O'Neill skated for the Bulldogs from 2008 to 2012, and left wing David Meckler played 31 games for Yale during the 2005-06 season.
O'Neill completed his college career ranked second among Yale players in both career points (163) and career assists (94), sixth in goals scored (69) and tied for first in games played (138).
"It's extremely exciting for our program," O'Neill said. "It's a really tight hockey community, and it makes it that much better that it's a Quinnipiac game. The schools are only seven miles apart, and there's not a lot of love between the teams. Hopefully we can finally get a national championship for the school."
Center Linden Vey assisted on each of Manchester's first two goals. He has a team-high 63 points (20 goals) in 70 games. . The Monarchs will face Hershey tonight (7) in Manchester. . Connecticut goaltender Cameron Talbot made 42 saves. Manchester outshot Connecticut 45-20. . The Monarchs are 2-4-0 against Connecticut this season.