Not a great week, but perhaps it was an aberration? It’s March 6, 2018, here’s your Manchester Monarchs Week in Review.
The Monarchs played in four games this week but escaped with just three points. Not a good result for any team, but particularly poor for a team that has led their division for so much of the year.
This week’s slump didn’t fit neatly into particular games, beginning late against Wheeling and continuing throughout both games against Adirondack, ending halfway through Sunday’s contest against Worcester.
Manchester has not had many slumps this year, with their only losing streaks longer than two games occurring in mid-November and early January. At least, that was the case prior to the stretch that ended on Sunday.
In total, those three slumps account for just under half of the Monarchs’ losses this season.
Inside the Monarchs’ locker room, the talk was a recommitment to regaining focus, something that occasionally lapses at key moments, something undermining this team’s obvious talent.
“It’s important that we go in the right direction, we haven’t been lately,” said Manchester Monarchs coach Richard Seeley on Saturday following their second straight loss to Adirondack. “It’s a good lesson for us. It’s not fun right now, it’s not enjoyable, but we have to get attention back to detail. We’re not executing and we’re not paying attention that allowed us to have success earlier.”
Top Star: Francois Beauchemin – Not to be confused with the much older defenseman on the Anaheim Ducks, Manchester’s first-year forward has bounced up and down from Springfield for most of the year. He was solid this week and has become a solid third/fourth line attacking threat, at times echoing the explosive fast breaks that team goal scoring leader Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman has used so frequently throughout this season.
Second Star: Keegan Iverson – Like Beauchemin, Iverson’s been a bulwark of the back lines over the past few weeks, occasionally going in and out of the lineup due to transactions. He’s also had some limited time in the AHL this year, like Beauchemin, and also like Beauchemin he had a great week this week, leading the team in shots on goal and points.
Third Star: Matt Doherty – Seeley frequently heaps praise upon Doherty, whose intangibles can often go unnoticed around such a potent offense, despite being fifth on the team in total points. The Massachusetts native got a chance in the first line on Sunday, helping Seeley shake up his struggling squad.
Beyond the Blue Lines
It was a busy week on the transaction front for the Monarchs. Colton Saucerman got a week with the Baby B’s in the AHL, but he’s back now. Spencer Watson returned from Ontario late in the week. Rob Hamilton came back from his two-month loan in Springfield.
But the big news was at the goaltender position.
Following a second short stint in the AHL, this time with Hartford, Charles Williams has returned to the Monarchs.
Williams has been one of the best goaltenders in the ECHL this season and now will likely platoon with Evan Cowley, who has also yo-yoed back and forth from the AHL due to the needs his home club in Springfield.
Cowley started each game this week, backed up by defacto emergency goaltender Carmine Guerriero, who was acquired from Idaho and then shipped off to Atlanta upon Williams’ return.
For Seeley, whether Williams is there or not, he’s confident in his club’s abilities.
“The strength of our club all year has been the depth of our lineup. We haven’t won because of Charles Williams or one d-man or one forward, we’ve won because of the balance in our lineup.” said Seeley on Saturday. “We have a lot of guys in and out of our lineup, but it’s a team effort when we win.”
In other transaction news, Justin Agosta was traded to the Worcester Railers for Ashton Rome on Sunday. Rome played 36 games for the Monarchs last year but did not play for the Railers when they played the Monarchs on Sunday afternoon. However, Agosta did play against his soon-to-be teammates despite the fact that the trade had been announced half an hour before gametime.
Manchester has two games this weekend, starting on the road against Adirondack on Friday. They come home to face Norfolk on Sunday.
Despite the recent losing streak, the Monarchs need to win just over half of their remaining games to enter the playoffs and even less than that depending on losses from fifth-place Worcester.
They will have to improve in the first period, going scoreless in the first period last week following their contest against Wheeling.
So far this season, they’ve outscored opponents by just five goals in the first period while outscoring opponents by 14 goals in the second period and 24 goals in the third period.