The first month of 2018 brought the first losing month of the 2017-’18 Manchester Monarchs, but at least they ended it on a high note as far as the standings are concerned, even if it wasn’t pretty.
It’s Feb. 1, here’s your Monarchs Week in Review.
Manchester, Wheeling, Adirondack and Reading are almost assured of playoff spots in the ECHL’s North Division, but the question will their pecking order once the regular season concludes.
That close race made gave added importance to last weekend’s two-game road trip to West Virginia.
As the Monarchs returned home, little changed in the North Division deadlock, with Manchester stealing a win from Wheeling on Saturday and falling to the Nailers a day later.
The Monarchs back-and-forth fortunes manifested again on Wednesday back at SNHU Arena with a victory over Brampton that saw four lead changes, but left Monarchs head coach Rich Seeley disappointed to say the least.
Top Star: Spencer Watson/Charles Williams – Saturday’s win came thanks specifically to the efforts of two Monarchs: returning goaltender Charles Williams and forward Spencer Watson.
Watson showed consistency, grabbing points in all three games. Williams wasn’t perfect on Sunday, but he was amazing on Saturday and Wednesday, finishing the week with over 100 saves.
Second Star: Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman – With the departure of Zac Lynch and Joel Lowry, LaVallee-Smotherman has become Manchester biggest scoring threat, building his team lead in goals with a streak that has seen him find the back of the net in six of the Monarchs’ last seven games.
Third Star: Keegan Iverson – Like Watson, Iverson ended the week with points in each of this week’s games, recording his first four assists of the season.
Beyond the Blue Lines
It looks like Williams and returning Monarch Brandon Komm will join Matt O’Connor after the tandem came back from brief AHL stints this week.
O’Connor, 25, comes to Manchester after playing 12 games this year between the Quad City Mallards (6), Atlanta Gladiators (4), and Milwaukee Admirals (2) of the AHL. He appeared in one game for the Ottawa Senators (NHL) in 2016-17, and posted a 3.10 GAA and a .912 save percentage in 71 games for the Binghamton Senators (AHL) from 2015-2017.
A Toronto native, O’Connor played collegiately for Boston University for three seasons from 2012-2015 and won a Hockey East Championship with the Terriers in the 2014-15 season.
“We’ve got confidence in all three of our goalies now,” said Seeley.
In addition to Williams starting all three games last week, another common thread among this week’s Monarchs games was Manchester’s inability to outshoot their opponents.
After outshooting just about every single team they faced for the first few weeks of the season, the Monarchs have seen the tables turn as of late, most notably with 45-22 shot deficit on Saturday.
“We’ve been able to capitalize on a lot of our chances, but for the long term, the recipe we’re working with is not one for success,” said Seeley.
The Monarchs welcome Brampton back to SNHU Arena on Friday with a 7 p.m. puck drop, with the homestand continuing on Sunday against Adirondack and next Friday and Saturday against South Carolina.