AUBURN – New Hampshire Monarchs junior forward Ben Muthersbaugh went to the penalty box at 12:52 of the third period for a 10-minute misconduct for challenging the referee’s judgment/ruling.
He wanted to make an impact when his misconduct ended, but the only chance was if Friday’s game with the Twin City Thunder ended in overtime.
He did, and he fired the Monarchs to Hooksett, New Hampshire with two points as he scored the game-winning goal in overtime to give the Monarchs a 2-1 win at Norway Savings Bank Arena.
“It sucked – I was helpless – I couldn’t help my team,” Muthersbaugh said. “But, I was sitting there, crossing my fingers, hoping that we would get to overtime. Sitting there, I was nervous; I wanted to help my team. Fortunately, when I came out of the box, I was there.
Aidan Curran scored the goal with a pass that extended the neutral zone and bounced off the side boards at the Monarchs’ offensive blue line to Muthersbaugh’s stick. Muthersbaugh took a few steps and went deep after to score his 17th goal of the season.
“(Muthersbaugh) probably has one of the best shots in the league,” Monarchs coach Clint Edinger said. “He blew a pipe earlier in the game, just past our bench at the far post. He is a very precise shooter, a pro shooter.
The Thunder had plenty of chances in overtime. They had possession of the puck for the first 80 seconds of the extra session. Josh Anderson was stopped by New Hampshire goaltender Mitchell Day (42 saves).
“Ryan Hintz was all alone in net and Anderson had a breakaway,” Thunder coach Dan Hodge said. “It’s one of those things, they’ll fall in love with you, and some nights they just won’t. Again, (Day) played really well, we couldn’t work it out tonight.
Neither team wanted the game to go to overtime, given the closeness of the USPHL National Collegiate Development Conference North Division standings. The Monarchs (25-14-5, 55 points) clinched a playoff berth and are tied with the Junior Bruins for first place in the division. The Thunder (21-16-6, 48 points) are fourth in last playoff spot. They have a two-point advantage over the Northern Cyclones.
Prior to Muthersbaugh’s misconduct, which teammate Seth Bernard also received after a roughing penalty from Colin Wojciechowski, the Monarchs had just tied the game at 1-1.
Ryan O’Halloran skated in the offensive zone and sent a backhand cross pass into the slot to Bernard, who tapped the puck past Thunder goaltender Brody Haynes (35 saves) at 11:46 of the third period.
“Great play, (O’Halloran) got a lot of energy on our end, he went through the middle of the ice and he gave a really nice pass to Seth,” Edinger said. “Seth buried it, that was a big goal. That one, it was like, ‘OK, we’ve got one, let’s see if we get that one in overtime. We can take a breather.’
The Thunder started the first period strong and played on the offensive side for most of the period.
Twin City’s first scoring chance came midway through the first period when Nathan Chickering’s 2-on-1 shot went wide wide of the net.
The hard work paid off with two minutes remaining in the first period when defenseman Ryan Hintz’s shot gave the Thunder a 1-0 lead.
“You can see it both ways: you scored a goal or you didn’t,” Hodge said. “Seventeen shots in the first period, 17 shots in the second period and we only have one goal to show.”
Twin City had a second-half chance on the power play to extend the lead, but couldn’t. The Thunder had a 5-on-3, which included a five-minute major as Monarchs forward Ian Driscoll received a final penalty. Zander Lizotte was already in the box to stumble.
Both teams were 0 for 3 on man advantage.
“Special teams are so crucial at this time of year that we haven’t done a very good job with them,” Hodge said. “We had a five-minute 5-on-3 major that we just squandered.”
The Thunder also had another power play in the second period.
The teams meet on Saturday in Hooksett, New Hampshire, at 7:30 p.m.