After a difficult weekend in Newfoundland, a new-look Manchester Monarchs squad earned two key victories last week, beginning what the team hopes is a rebound after a sluggish start to their season.
Upon returning to the States, Manchester made over half a dozen transactions in a matter of hours, most notably sending longtime defenseman Colton Saucerman to Idaho in exchange for forwards Jack Nevins and Joe Pendenza.
While Saucerman’s signature beard and 41-point tally last season, a pace he was on track to eclipse this year, will be missed, the shakeup had an immediate impact on the club’s performance.
“Sauce is a huge part of our team, a great person and a great player, but we got into a situation with all the callups that we needed to bring in a forward,” said Monarchs head coach Doug Petersen. “Pendenza has been great for us, he does everything well offensively and defensively and we look forward to getting Nevins on the ice.”
Manchester took a decisive 4-1 Wednesday morning victory over Adirondack in their return to the ice following the transactions and seemed poised for an easy victory against Orlando on Friday as well.
The Monarchs ultimately pulled out the victory in overtime, but the overtime goal became necessary only due to a late Orlando power play goal.
Indeed, special teams remains a problem for Manchester. Although only Tulsa has had fewer penalty minutes than the Monarchs, Manchester has the third worst penalty kill unit in the league when their men are in the box. Things are even worse on the power play, where Manchester sits dead last in the league, converting on only 9.5 percent of their power plays following the Orlando game.
“We have to get to work on it, we have to be patient,” said Petersen. “Our power play isn’t as good as we thought it would be at the beginning of the year and not as bad as it is now, but we have some time to improve it.”
Despite the pair of wins, Manchester still sits near the bottom of the ECHL’s North Division, looking to continue their bounce back with road games over Thanksgiving week against Adirondack, Worcester and Maine.
“It’s obviously going to be a touch stretch, Adirondack is a great team,” said Petersen. “Obviously you’re playing divisional opponents. You have to get points on the road to reach your goals, but we’ve got some momentum and we’ll take it forward.”
Top Star: Spencer Watson (3 goals, +2, 10 shots on goal)
Second Star: Chris Driedger (1.48 Goals Against Average, 55 saves)
Third Star: Stephan Falkovsky (1 goal, 1 assist, +2, 6 shots on goal)