Monarchs complete amazing late-season surge to clinch playoff spot
The playoff pressure is off the Manchester Monarchs.
Manchester earned an invitation to the Calder Cup playoffs by posting a 3-1 road victory over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday night.
The Monarchs, who extended their winning streak to six games, secured the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. It was the 11th time Manchester has qualified for the postseason in 12 years.
Manchester (37-31-3-4) entered Saturday night's game in a four-way tie with Hershey, Norfolk and Connecticut. Those four teams were battling for the Eastern Conference's final two playoff berths.
Things went Manchester's way elsewhere Saturday night as Albany defeated Norfolk, 2-0; Portand beat Connecticut 5-1; and Binghamton topped Hershey 4-2. The Monarchs own the tiebreaker (most wins in regulation and overtime) against Norfolk, Connecticut and Hershey.
Defenseman David Kolomatis, left wing Andy Andreov and left wing Tanner Pearson scored for the Monarchs. Former UNH standout Paul Thompson scored a power-play goal for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with 1:19 left. It was Thompson's 20th goal of the season.
Manchester goalie Martin Jones made 36 saves.
The game was scorless until Kolomatis collected his eighth goal of the season 31 seconds into the third period. He beat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goaltender Brad Thiessen with a high shot from the right faceoff circle.
The lead doubled when Andreoff scored his 13th goal of the season during a Manchester power-play at 9:53. After Thompson's power-play goal made it a 2-1 game, Pearson collected an empty-net goal with 14.1 seconds left.
The Monarchs will conclude their regular-season schedule with at game at Hershey on Sunday at 5 p.m.
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The Monarchs released Londonderry's Ian O'Connor before Saturday night's game. O'Connor, a 25-year-old forward, scored two goals and had nine penalty minutes in 17 games with the Monarchs this season. He had 18 goals and 13 assists with the Reading Royals earlier this season.