Monarchs Taking The Point
Last season, the Manchester Monarchs needed three victories in the final three games of the season to clinch the eighth and final playoff seed. The Monarchs accomplished their goal and narrowly squeezed into the Calder Cup Playoffs before facing off against the eventual Calder Cup Champion Norfolk Admirals in the opening round where they lost, 3-1, in the four game series.
The Monarchs got off to a quick start to begin this season with a 5-1-0-0 record. Even after a few injuries to key members on the team, Manchester continues to grind out games earning valuable points in the standings. The Monarchs are tied for first place in the Atlantic Division with 21 points and a record of 9-6-2-1.
“Games in the American League are tough to win and I think every night is a battle,” said Monarchs center Linden Vey. “There are so many good teams in this league and you can’t take teams for granted, especially when you get the lead.”
The Monarchs know how valuable each point can be, especially once the AHL season reaches April and teams battle for playoff positions. After all, two points is two points whether it is November or mid-April.
“Every point is essential,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “We would love to have more wins but until we are able to play a full sixty minutes, it makes it tough. I think that learning how to win is a big step for a young team and a team that is trying to find its way. Guys have to feel it and understand that it can be done in those close games. It is important that everybody takes a turn doing the hard tasks and steps up to deliver.”
Manchester’s young team is looking to deliver in the third period like they have been in the first two periods in games.
“I think that we want it to be a staple in our game that when we have the lead, we are going to hold onto it and keep going after teams,” said Vey. “This past weekend, we kind of let off and took our foot off the accelerator. We need to bear down in the next few weeks before the Christmas break and make sure to do a good job for the whole game.”
Despite not firing on all cylinders lately, the Monarchs still earned six out of a possible eight points in the standings with a 2-0-2-0 record in four games last week.
“I think we played good just a little bit inconsistent,” explained Vey. “I think some of the games we let go at the end of the game and didn’t finish. We didn’t play a full sixty. I think that is something we need to focus on and continue to get better. It is a learning curve for us. We have a young team and we just have to keep building and going forward.”
The Monarchs will look ahead to the weekend with three games in three nights on their schedule. On Friday, the Monarchs will open a home-and-home series at the Verizon Wireless Arena against the Northeast leading Springfield Falcons. Manchester finishes the home-and-home series on Saturday in Springfield before returning to the Jungle to play the Portland Pirates on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.
Sunday’s game is more than just two potential points for Manchester and Portland. The division rivals are competing for the VIP Cup, presented by VIP Parts, Tires and Service.
“I think when you play another teams so many times, you get that rivalry between the two teams,” stated Vey. “The games get heated and that’s the good part about hockey, I think you want to be in those games and play against teams like that. And Portland, every time we play them, it is that edgy game. It is a rough game but a fun game to be a part of and we are looking forward to that one, of course.”
When the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs draw near, the Monarchs will be glad they earned victories in the beginning of the season but for now they will keep taking the points.