Bud Holloway was just looking to get off the ice.
All he wanted to do was send the puck in deep and head to the Manchester Monarchs’ bench midway through the second period of Tuesday’s Game 4 against the Hershey Bears.
When Andrei Loktionov made a nifty move to get away from Hershey’s Steve Pinizzotto along the boards, Holloway was just crossing the blue line. The winger one-timed Loktionov’s pass toward the net and turned for a change.
But when he looked back, he saw something unexpected.
“I was kind of getting a head start to get off and I looked and saw (Dwight) King celebrating,” Holloway said.
King deflected Holloway’s blast past Hershey goalie Michal Neuvirth for the game’s only goal at 9:11 of the second period. Manchester goalie Jonathan Bernier made 18 saves and the Monarchs blocked several shots in the third period to make King’s tally stand.
“I think he was shooting at the net, and I just happened to be in the right place and got my stick on it,” King said. “The biggest thing for me was that I had my stick on the ice. I wasn’t expecting a shot-pass at all. I probably got a little bit lucky.”
Holloway admitted he was hoping to get the shot on net, but just wanted to send the puck deep.
“I’d like to say I (was trying to pass), but I just put it there,” he said. “King is a big body. You put the puck near the net, he’s going to take a whack at it.”
The win ties the Eastern Conference Final at 2-2, with Game 5 set for 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
The Monarchs picked up right where they left off in Game 3, outshooting the Bears 22-12 over the first 45-plus minutes of the game. Combined with the final two periods and overtime of Game 3, Manchester held a 54-24 edge in shots before the final 13 minutes of Game 4.
Even with all those shots and opportunities, the Monarchs were only able to get one past Neuvirth.
“We got a timely goal that was the difference,” Manchester coach Mark Morris said. “There was a lot of urgency. It’s great to keep the shots down because a team like that, it’s hard to keep them off the scoreboard. They come at you hard and they’ve got a lot of firepower. Bernier played a stellar game for us and we tried our best to deny them every opportunity that we could.”
Manchester appeared to get an insurance goal with 4:48 left in the game on perhaps one of the strangest bounces in the history of the arena.
David Kolomatis dumped the puck into the Hershey end, shooting it high off the glass in the corner to the right of the goal. Neuvirth moved out of the crease to play the puck, but it hit the glass at an odd angle.
The carom went straight to the net and snuck inside the far post, but the goal was waved off because Manchester was offsides.
“I think it was offside, it was a good call,” Morris said. “We were hoping it would relieve a little bit of pressure because we knew it was going to come right down to the wire and it did. That goal would have given us a little bit of breathing room. You never count those guys out.”