Manchester - Maybe it was over at the NHL trade deadline at 3 p.m. -- some four hours earlier -- when the parent club Los Angeles Kings did not answer a desperate S.O.S. for veteran help here. In a role reversal, the last-place Lowell Devils played like the team fighting for the last spot in the Atlantic Division playoffs, embarrassing the Monarchs from start to finish, 7-3, last night.
Verizon Wireless Arena was filled with boos from 7,116 disgruntled fans. At the end of the first period Lowell was up, 3-0, on a pair of power play goals by little known Ben Mondou, a first-year AHL skater who soon earned his first career hat trick in the second period.
Olli Malmivaara finished with a pair of goals while teammates Mike Pandolfo and Petr Vrana scored the other Lowell goals. Devils defenseman Olivier Magnan was in on four goals.
There were plenty of points to go around in the Devils' third straight win over Manchester and seventh inexplicable drubbing of the Monarchs in eight meetings this season.
The Monarchs (25-25-4-4, 58 points), stay in fifth place in the Atlantic Division, trailing Springfield by four points for the final playoff spot. Manchester has never missed the playoffs, but that eventuality is starting to sink in.
"We have a lot of work to do if we want to get into the playoffs," said Monarchs captain Jon Klemm, the team's only veteran.
"It's a struggle right now with some these guys and their confidence level," added Monarchs coach Mark Morris.
Matt Ryan had a Monarchs goal on Klemm's rebound in the second period but the Monarchs were still down, 5-1, at the time. Mondou capped his hat trick 1:20 later. The lead was as large as 7-1 after Malmivaara, who scored the game's first goal 8:34 in, netted his second with 4:12 to play in the second period. Gabe Gauthier scored another Monarchs goal with 38 seconds left in the second period on the power play -- garbage time at that point.
"Mistakes were compounded by more mistakes," said Morris. "So glaring ... We've made it difficult on ourselves. We've found ways to be our own worst enemy."
Backing up Monarchs goaltender Dan Taylor (19 saves) last night was Manchester native Rick Laurendeau. The big story would have been if Laurendeau had played. The crowd certainly wanted him in as the second period ended with Lowell up, 7-2, and the Devils having clicked on the power play five of eight times.
Like everyone else, Laurendeau could only sit and bear it. Unlike everyone else, though, he couldn't leave until it was over. The 30-something good guy actually missed his Senior A game in the city's West Side Arena for this.
Monarchs director of hockey development Hubie McDonough recalled goaltender Jon Quick from Reading, Pa., of the ECHL, but he too could not reach Manchester in time for the game. He too probably could not have helped in the onslaught.
Notes: Monarchs' Petr Kanko scored the only goal of the third period -- his first in 7 games ... Seven goals against and five on the power play were the most allowed by the Monarchs this season ... Monarchs have lost four of their last five home games ... Kings sent RW Teddy Purcell back to Manchester. He will arrive for this weekend's games ... C Brian Boyle assisted two Monarchs goals ... Healthy scratches: RW Kevin Westgarth, D Joe Piskula. Morris called Piskula's benching a "developmental scratch" ... Injury: D Drew Bagnall (upper body) ... Devils (18-29-7-4, 47 points) are unbeaten in regulation in four straight overall