Have the Monarchs found the formula for consistent success as they begin the final stretch toward the Kelly Cup playoffs? Or will the boys in black go back and forth from dominance to mental mistakes?
It’s Feb. 8, here’s your Manchester Monarchs Week in Review.
The Monarchs ended January and began February on hot streak, rebounding from a New Year’s slump to win five of their last six since the Jacksonville massacre two weeks ago.
On Friday against Brampton, the answer to that question was no. But, there are nights when half of a good game or even a third of a good game can be enough to win. On Saturday, it was a good effort from start to finish.
Still, the question isn’t whether this is a good team, but whether this team can be consistently good for 60 minutes every single night.
“We know we’re physically capable to put those numbers up, but we want that all the time,” said Monarchs head coach Rich Seeley. “We want that consistency.”
Top Star: Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman – LaVallee-Smotherman might have been the most valuable Monarch again last weekend, even if fellow forward Spencer Watson was right up there. Still, it’s hard to argue with the league, let alone 11 points in three games. That’s one point short of his other 11 January appearances combined.
“It was a holiday slump, I guess, getting the cookies out of me,” he said. “The puck seems to be going the right way for us now.”
Second Star: Spencer Watson – He still has a long way to go before he catches up with Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman’s goal total, but Watson’s five goal weekend was certainly a good start.
Regardless, it was still a good two days for the Oregon native, and if you take out last Sunday’s contest against Wheeling, he now has goals in his last eight games.
“Watty’s made a lot of strides since he’s been here,” said Seeley. “I think he was squeezing a little bit when he came down, and there are little things away from the puck that he’s doing.”
Third Star: Charles Williams – Any other week, you could argue for Williams being at the top of the list, but even 70 saves and two wins in net can’t beat hat tricks.
While the Monarchs certainly are strong in net with Brandon Komm and Matt O’Connor backing up Williams, it’s clear that he’s the top option, platoon or not. Currently he’s ninth in the league in Goals Against Average (2.61) and save percentage (91.8%)
Beyond the Blue Lines
In transaction news, this week saw the return of Tony Cameranesi from Utica in the American Hockey League and the beginning of Hayden Hodgson’s loan from the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters.
A 6-foot-2, 207-pound native of Windsor, ON., Watson played in 294 OHL games over five years before turning pro this season. There, he totaled 157 points (87g, 70a) in his five seasons, split between three teams, and led the Saginaw Spirit with 38 goals in the 2016-17 season.
Cameranesi appeared in 20 games for Manchester earlier this season before leaving in mid-December. He was also the Orlando Solar Bears’ ECHL All-Star representative last year.
Although Hodgson returned to Cleveland on Wednesday, Cameranesi remains on Elm Street for now.
“Tony Cameranesi coming back is big for our lineup, he was a big part of our success early on,” said Seeley. “I think with him we’re a faster team.”
The Monarchs’ homestand concludes next weekend with a two-game set against the South Carolina Stingrays. The puck drops in Saturday’s game against South Carolina at 6 p.m. while Sunday’s game has a 3 p.m. start.