The Monarchs welcomed a trio of non-divisional foes this weekend, continuing to solidify once looked like a tenuous case for a playoff berth as they now head south to face another trio of non-divisional foes.
It’s Feb. 12, 2019, here’s what’s been going on in Monarchs Country.
Friday, Feb. 8 – Manchester 4, Wheeling 3 (home)
Saturday, Feb.9 – Manchester 4, Cincinnati 3 (home)
Sunday, Feb. 10 – Greenville 7, Manchester 3 (home)
Four more points are in the books for Manchester, as they continue toward the likely 80-point threshold they’ll need to obtain for a playoff berth.
If that 80-point dividing line remains in place this season as it generally has for the previous few ECHL seasons, it means Manchester needs 13 regulation wins in their final 22 games, a tally that in theory should be 12 after the end of this weekend.
But despite beating a team with the league’s second-best record in Cincinnati on Saturday, they couldn’t defeat a team with the league’s worst record in Greenville on Sunday.
Moreoever, another poor performance from Monarchs backup goaltender Cole Kehler let the Swamp Rabbits get seven goals on the board, Manchester’s worst defensive tally to date.
Overall, two wins out of three games isn’t a bad thing, the weekend on the whole was certainly one of the better ones this year for Manchester. However, Sunday’s outing means that there is still work to do.
“I think if you told me before the weekend that we’d get four of six points, we would have taken it,” said Monarchs Head Coach Doug Christiansen. “Obviously, when you get Friday and Saturday night and you go into Sunday with a team that hasn’t had success, you expect to win. We didn’t put together our best performance, but it gave us plenty to talk about and plenty to work on. For us it’s about building and moving forward and as a whole over the weekend, I think we did that.”
Throughout the weekend, the SNHU Arena ice was covered with messages of hope and solidarity for breast cancer survivors, culminating with a pre-game ceremony on Saturday where members of the Monarchs were introduced along side local breast cancer survivors.
While the Monarchs have been in good form recently, winning seven of their last 10, the poignance of the night did help put an extra spring into Manchester’s step against Cincinnati.
“I think the guys with guys going out with someone being impacted by cancer, it’s impossible not to have perspective and excitement toward helping the community,” said Christiansen.
Regardless of how the wins are coming, one thing is clear: this year’s Monarchs team is not built to have one “go-to” guy. Spencer Watson leads the team with 39 points, 37th among ECHL forwards.
On any given night, any Monarch can, and is expected to, step up as needed. This weekend proved to be an example of that philosophy; whether it’s David Kolomatis’ scoring game-winners on Friday and Saturday, the multi-goal weekends from Watson, Tony Cameranesi and the AHL-bound Nic Pierog, or the various other contributions from up and down the roster.
“In terms of an offensive point of view, I love the fact that we’re getting scoring from all over and don’t have someone in the Top 20 in scoring,” said Christiansen. “I’m sure we’d like to have guys who can bring knock goals on demand if they came to us, but all ten of our forwards can score two goals on any given night. That’s a dangerous thing to have and it gives us favorable matchups on a consistent basis.”
With New England coping with the latest winter storm, the Monarchs now escape to the Sunshine State for their last set of games against non-divisional opponents this year.
The trip begins in Jacksonville on Wednesday, Feb. 13 (7 p.m.), followed by a pair of games against the Florida Everblades in Estero, FL on Friday, Feb. 15 and Saturday, Feb. 16 (7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.). The trip concludes with a contest on Sunday, Feb. 17 against the Orlando Solar Bears (1:30 p.m.)