It’s Feb. 13, here’s your Manchester Monarchs Week in Review.
There are only two teams in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference that have better records than the Monarchs this season and one of them stopped by SNHU Arena last weekend. However, neither team left Manchester with any change in the standings.
The Monarchs and the South Carolina Stingrays split their two-game set in what was ultimately a pair of forgettable contests.
South Carolina netminder Parker Milner was the hero on Saturday night, grabbing his second shutout in as many weeks, and Matt Marcinew was the man of the hour on Sunday, scoring the overtime game winning goal for the Monarchs on Sunday afternoon.
There is little doubt that the Monarchs will make the playoffs, at their current pace they should clinch a postseason berth near the beginning of March. The question is whether they can turn on the flashes of brilliance they’ve showed at many points throughout the season, or whether they will enter late April with the lethargy they showed this weekend.
Top Star: Charles Williams – Both teams combined for just four goals in the two-game set, a mark of good goaltending regardless of anything else.
Despite Milner’s brilliance, Williams was right there with him on Friday night, just one save away from a shutout of his own.
On the Monarchs’ “off nights”, they’ve come to rely on Williams brilliant goaltending to keep them close until they can capitalize on an opponent’s error at the other end of the ice.
Second Star: Matt Leitner – Leitner returned to the ice on Sunday for the first time since December with a goal, his first goal at SNHU Arena since Dec. 8 against Norfolk.
He was an assist shy of grabbing a Gordie Howe Hat Trick in that game, following up his second period goal with an altercation against Joey Leach just over a minute later.
Third Star: Matt Marcinew – Marcinew got the Monarchs’ only other goal, so he wins the final star by default. That’s not to say he didn’t have a good homestand overall, leaving town with five points in his last six games, but it is easy to overlook his contributions in light of the hot streaks of linemates Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman and Spencer Watson.
Beyond the Blue Lines
The Monarchs’ goaltending dynamic changed once again on Tuesday, following the announced trade of Branden Komm to Reading.
Komm appeared in 13 games for the Monarchs this season. Manchester was his third stop in the ECHL this season following stops in Idaho and Quad City.
His departure puts Boston University alumnus Matt O’Connor squarely in the backup role behind Williams.
In other transactional news, Sam Kurker returned to the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters after a brief return, while Michael Downing and Francois Beauchemin returned from their AHL assignments in Springfield.
The Monarchs are set to begin their third southern road trip of the year, with games against Greenville on Thursday and a pair of games against the Boston Bruin-affiliated Atlanta Gladiators on Friday and Sunday.