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THE GREENSBORO MONARCHS CLOSED OUT THE YEAR STAFF SPORTS WRITER
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THE GREENSBORO MONARCHS CLOSED OUT THE YEAR STAFF SPORTS WRITER

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The Greensboro Monarchs closed out the year Sunday night with an 8-7 overtime shootout win over Hampton Roads in an East Coast Hockey League game.

Greensboro's Doug Lawrence settled matters with a shootout goal against Admirals goalie Alain Raymond and sent a boisterous crowd home happy.``This is a big win,' Greensboro coach Jeff Brubaker said. ``This was one we earned.'

The Monarchs' next home game is Thursday against Johnstown.

A loss Sunday night would have been a fifth straight for Greensboro, which has scored 17 goals in three games with only one win to show for it.

Greensboro is leading the league in enemies, but the Monarchs are also leading in shots off the post and missed opportunities. They have lost in every way imaginable, but not once because of a lack of effort. That, said Brubaker, is what has him frustrated.

``No team in this league works harder than we do,' Brubaker said. ``We have outplayed and outworked teams for two weeks now with nothing to show for it. It's about time something went our way.'

Lawrence's goal in the shootout averted another stunning loss, and it snapped a four-game losing streak.

It was a game of missed opportunities for the Monarchs. The teams skated to a 2-2 tie after the first period as Greensboro twice fought back from a goal deficit to even the score.

Two goals by Chris Laganis, the second with 2:41 left in the period, offset two Admirals goals that frustrated the Monarchs. Hampton Roads' second goal, at 9:52, bounced in past Darren McCluskey.

The Monarchs went to their checking game in the second period, and the scoring picked up along with the hitting. Greensboro scored four goals in the period and amassed 23 minutes in penalties to take control of the game.

After falling behind 4-3 on two power-play goals by the Admirals, Greensboro opened up.

Greensboro tied the game on a shot by Lawrence, who flipped a rebound past Raymond. Greensboro took its first lead of the game at 12:23 on a back-hand by Phil Berger, and went ahead 6-4 on a slapshot from in close by Boyd Sutton. Sutton's shot came after Daniel Bock beat the Admirals defense with a hard drive from the point.

All the hard work was wasted away in 1:48 of the third period when Hampton Roads scored twice to tie the game. A fight near the end of the second period left the Monarchs two men down to open the final 20 minutes. The Admirals scored a power-play goal 21 seconds into the period, and another bouncing puck - off Brian Martin's stick - tied the game at 1:48.

Between the periods, a board was placed over the goal as a part of a promotion stunt. The board has a small opening in the center, just large enough for a puck to slip through. Until Bock scored a power-play goal with 11:41 left in the game, it was as if the board was still in the goal. Bock's shot, a drive from the left wing, went through Raymond's skates - an opening just large enough for a puck to slip through.

The 7-6 lead was short-lived. The Admirals scored on a shot by Dennis McEwen 12 seconds later.

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