There’s only one more ECHL game in the Granite State before the new year rolls around, but the last few weeks of 2017 continue to be good ones for the boys in purple and black (or whatever was going on Saturday night.
It’s December 12, 2017, here’s your Manchester Monarchs Week in Review.
With the exception of a brief slump just before Thanksgiving and occasional misfires against Worcester, the Monarchs have been almost unbeatable this season.
That trend continued over the weekend with three straight victories, beginning on Friday night with a 5-2 victory over the Norfolk Admirals.
On Saturday, the Monarchs renewed an annual tradition and broke out their “ugly sweater” jerseys, shutting out the Reading Royals to increase their lead atop the ECHL’s North Division.
Norfolk returned on Sunday, with the Monarchs eking out a late win on a sneaky goal from newcomer Matt Buckles.
If there was one glaring problem to point out, it was the lack of power play goals on 15 opportunities over the weekend, as the Monarchs appeared fatigued by Sunday’s contest.
Top Star: (tie) Matt Buckles– After three games in a Monarchs uniform, former Springfield Thunderbird Matt Buckles has two goals and three assists, including that game-winning goal on Sunday, highlighting a weekend of outstanding individual Monarchs performances.
Buckles, 22, arrives in Manchester after playing 13 games in the AHL for the Thunderbirds this season where he recorded three assists.
Drafted by the Florida Panthers (98th overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the 6-foot-3, 218-pound native of Toronto, Ontario, played collegiately at Cornell University for four seasons.
During his time on campus, Buckles skated in 118 games and scored 44 points on 29 goals and 15 assists. After his senior season was over, Buckles signed with the Thunderbirds and played nine games and scored seven points on three goals and four assists.
Second Star: Charles Williams – If there’s one area where the Los Angeles Kings organization has strength, it’s at the goaltender position. Jonathan Quick currently has the third best Goals Allowed Average in the NHL, Ontario’s Cal Petersen has the fifth best GAA in the AHL and Williams now has the best GAA in the ECHL.
On Saturday, Williams recorded his first ever professional shutout, following up a strong 31 save performance on Friday night.
Third Star: (tie) Colton Saucerman, Sam Kurker and Michael Doherty – Averaging a point per game during a weekend stint would normally be enough for a spot on this list, but with Manchester had four skaters do even better than that, so we apologize to Zac Lynch and Joel Lowry here.
Along with Buckles, Kurker and Saucerman led the way on Friday night, also contributing assists on Saturday night as well.
Doherty also had a pair of assists on Saturday, and helped on both of Sunday’s goals.
Beyond the Blue Lines
In addition to Buckles, this week the Monarchs also added Alex Privitera, Branden Komm and Mikkel Aagaard, with Evan Cowley returning to Springfield.
Privitera, 24, returns to the Monarchs after beginning the 2017-18 season with Medvescak Zagreb (EBEL) where he played 23 games and scored five points on one goal and four assists.
He began the 2016-17 season with the Monarchs and scored 22 points on five goals and 17 assists in 33 regular-season games, and scored four points on one goal and three assists in 17 Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Privitera couldn’t record a point during the weekend, but Aagaard got a goal on Friday and an assist on Saturday.
Aagaard, 22, arrives in Manchester after scoring three points on three assists in 19 games while with the Thunderbirds this season. Last year, Aagaard split time with the Stockton Heat (AHL) and Adirondack Thunder (ECHL). With Stockton, Aagaard scored 11 points on five goals and six assists in 25 games, and with the Thunder, scored 39 points on 13 goals and 26 assists in 38 games.
The 6-foot, 179-pound native of Frederikshavn, Denmark, has played 20 career games for the Danish National Team, and 123 games in the OHL for the Niagara Icedogs and Sudbury Wolves. While in the OHL, Aagaard posted 94 points on 39 goals and 55 assists.
Komm got the win in net for the Monarchs on Sunday, coming on board from the Quad City Mallards.
The 6-foot-1, 181-pound native of Williamsville, NY, has played 79 career ECHL games with the Evansville Icemen, Cincinnati Cyclones, South Carolina Stingrays, Steelheads and Mallards and has compiled a 33-32-4 record, a 2.78 GAA and a 0.902 save percentage.
“The first thing I heard about this place was that it’s a great place to play, everyone enjoys playing here,” said Komm on Sunday. “When you have a reputation like that, you try to come into it and just play your part.”
Manchester now heads south for another three-game/three-day set.
Their week begins on Wednesday in Jacksonville before heading to South Carolina for Thursday and Friday contests against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits.
Congested schedules are a fact of life for professional hockey players, but Monarchs head coach Richard Seeley knows that fatigue cannot be an excuse for his squad. He believes that limiting forwards to about 16 minutes of ice time per night will be key to surviving the grind.
Seeley also believes that his team’s culture will provide an advantage, as he expects his players to build up each other to get through tough spots, bringint the steady stream of newcomers up to speed quickly.
“We’ve got a good group of guys in there and when one or two or three guys steps into a weekend, it’s pretty clear to them, it’s pretty clear what’s expected of them,” he says. “I think our leadership group is very strong, I think that’s been a huge part of our success and not talked about enough.”