Nic Dowd the overtime hero, Monarchs take 2-0 Calder Cup final lead

The Manchester Monarchs took a commanding 2-0 lead in the Calder Cup final thanks to an overtime goal by Nic Dowd. The overtime loss saw Utica waste yet another remarkable performance by netminder Jacob Markstrom, who has stopped 71 shots through two games.

If the Utica Comets can claw their way back into the Calder Cup final series against the Manchester Monarchs, it has all the makings of a classic.

In reality, were it not for a few unfriendly bounces for the Comets, that sentence could be the other way around. Yet, after two games, the Monarchs lead the best-of-seven series 2-0, winning both games in overtime. In Game 2, it was Nic Dowd – he of four goals and eight points in 15 games heading into Sunday’s contest – who made the difference in the extra frame on a net front scramble:

Dowd’s goal was his second point of the contest, as he registered the secondary assist on Zach O’Brien’s game-opening goal. With the pair of points, Dowd has now found the score sheet 10 times this post-season, which is remarkable considering he had 41 points in 75 regular season games. Maybe more impressive is his goal total: in the regular season he scored nine, but through 16 playoff contests he has five.

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Sadly for the Comets, they have now squandered two back-to-back five-star performances from netminder Jacob Markstrom. In the series’ opening game, Markstrom was beaten three times, including the overtime-winner, on 37 shots. Game 2 was more of the same, but this time Markstrom turned aside 37 of 39 shots in the overtime loss. Conversely, Monarchs goaltender Jean-Francois Berube has faced 42 shots through two games and has been forced to make only one save in overtime.

Utica was the underdog coming into the series, but Markstrom could very well have been the difference in the series, as he’s continued his incredible regular season play into the playoffs. He’s been nothing short of excellent in the final, but he’ll need some goal support should the Comets want to make the series close.

Game 3 goes Wednesday evening in Utica, with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.