Monarchs Look To Find Their Roll
The Manchester Monarchs entered February coming off their best month of the season, compiling seven victories in 11 games during January, including a season-best four-game winning streak. The achievement is more impressive when you consider the roster fluctuation that has occurred since the NHL lockout ended in January.
The Monarchs have seen a lot of changing faces with players being recalled to the Los Angeles Kings, players going down due to injury or through trades and waiver claims. They have countered by getting a savvy NHL veteran in Anthony Stewart and signing players from the Ontario Reign who lead the ECHL’s Western Conference with a 34-11-1-2 record and 71 points.
After hitting a few bumps in the road last weekend, the Monarchs are anxious to get back on the ice to show what they can do.
“We are ready to go,” Stewart proclaimed after wrapping up a grueling practice at the Verizon Wireless Arena. “We’re staying positive and working hard.”
Stewart settled in quickly in Manchester as he dropped the mitts in the first 11 seconds of his first game in Manchester. Stewart also tallied an empty net goal to cap the victory for the Monarchs.
Defensemen Vincent LoVerde and Chris Huxley are also two recent additions to the Monarchs blueline and have settled in nicely as each tallied points last weekend. Huxley assisted on LoVerde’s first AHL goal last Friday night. Huxley is the only Monarchs player to have recorded a point in each of the last two games, the first of which was his first career AHL point. LoVerde has now appeared in 21 games for the Monarchs registering a goal and an assist.
“It’s going well.” LoVerde explained about being reunited with Huxley in Manchester after they played together in Ontario. “We are very familiar with each other and we complement each other well. It’s nice to be with someone you’re familiar with back there and someone you have had past experiences with.”
The Monarchs return home this weekend for their third annual Pink In The Rink game which raises awareness of breast cancer. Manchester is tied with the Worcester Sharks for third place in the Atlantic Division with 46 points. After a four-game road trip, six out of the next eight games are against Atlantic Division teams making the contests critical to the team’s post-season hopes.
“All games at this point in the season are very important,” said LoVerde about playing Atlantic Division rivals in the next couple weeks. “It’s getting down to crunch time. In every game, two points are huge; we’re all battling for a playoff spot.”
The Monarchs do not feel any added pressure to perform but rather just need to play their game and out work their opponents.
“You need to continue to do your role and you can’t try to do too much.” LoVerde explained. “We’ve had some losses so everyone needs to step up to be able to perform on the ice and off the ice. It’s an opportunity to perform in all areas.”
Even with the threat of snow, the Monarchs Pink In The Rink game on Saturday night is still expected to be a great game. Fans circle this game on their calendar because of the great cause and the spectacle of pink ice being used for a hockey game.
“I played in a Breast Cancer awareness night all four years at college and then once in juniors, but they never dyed the ice so I’m curious to see what it is going to look like,” explained LoVerde. “None of the guys have told me what to expect. They couldn’t really describe it other than the fact that everything’s pink and the crowd is awesome. Manchester has great fans and anytime there are a lot of fans here, the noise really helps us players get into the game and focus.”
The Monarchs will be focused this Saturday night as they look to get back on a roll with some help from their role players.