Well, if every month can turn out like December, the Monarchs are certainly going to be in the mix for the Kelly Cup. Will the new year continue bringing good tidings from the boys in purple and black?
It’s Jan. 2, 2018, here’s your Manchester Monarchs Week in Review.
The Monarchs were 10-3-0-0 in December, a pace that will likely secure a playoff berth somewhere around Valentine’s Day if it can be maintained.
One of those losses came in Glens Falls on Wednesday night in a loss to the Thunder that can be easily attributed to road fatigue or maybe the sheer fact that it wasn’t likely that Manchester was going to win every single game this season.
However, as the standings will corroborate, this is a good team. Good teams generally don’t have many off nights and the Monarchs’ off night against Adirondack wasn’t duplicated on either of the two contests against Worcester to conclude the calendar year.
In Worcester on Saturday, the Monarchs evened up their season record against the Railers with a strong third period effort that ended what had been a back-and-forth affair.
Coming home a day later, the Monarchs broke out their tuxedos for an affair that looked like it might seep into the new year before Matt Schmalz put Worcester away once and for all.
Top Star: Michael Doherty – Let’s see…Doherty’s got eight goals so far and six of them have come against the Railers and the Monarchs played two games against the Railers this week. So, it’s no surprise that the Reading, MA native excelled during the dying embers of 2017.
To be fair, he’s on a tear whether he’s facing Worcester or not, with seven points and a +4 plus/minus rating in his last five appearances.
Second Star: Charles Williams – Williams was the hard luck loser on Wednesday, but he kept his team in the game, which could be said about almost any game he’s started this year except for an atrocious outing in Jacksonville.
Heading into Tuesday night, his 2.33 Goals Allowed Average is tied for third best in the league, behind only Colorado’s Joe Cannata and Florida’s Martin Ouellette, with Cannata and Ouellette playing 424 and 193 fewer minutes respectively.
Third Star: Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman – Sure, it’s hard to surpass last week, but this week wasn’t half bad for the Monarchs’ assistant captain.
LaVallee-Smotherman had a hat trick of assists between the two games against Worcester.
Beyond the Blue Lines
Joel Lowry went back to the AHL’s Utica Comets a day before the Wednesday contest against Adirondack, and Tony Turgeon saw a brief return from Springfield before heading back to the AHL after Manchester’s contest in Worcester.
The Monarchs also saw the return of Springfield’s Matt Buckles and Francois Beauchamin. Buckles certainly made a mark during his first tenure in Manchester this season, but Beauchamin was largely anonymous in his three earlier games a Monarch around Halloween.
After the assignments of Beauchemin and Buckles, the Monarchs now have 16 players on their current roster who have logged a combined 983 AHL games.
Of the six players who have not registered an AHL game to this point, four are rookies, although both Williams and Branden Komm have dressed as the back-up for AHL games.
The Monarchs have the league’s best road record, which they hope to build upon this week.
First up is a return to Glens Falls on Wednesday, followed by games in Wheeling on Friday and Toledo on Saturday.
After that, the Monarchs host six straight contests at home, beginning with two more games against Worcester.