MANCHESTER, NH – It’s been a week since the Manchester Monarchs’ 2017-’18 season ended with what was the ninth-longest game in ECHL History.
Professional hockey will return to the Granite State this autumn, but until then, here’s one last look back.
On the Ice
The Monarchs finished the year with a regular season record of 41-31, with six of those losses coming after regulation (three shootout, three non-shootout)
Manchester led the ECHL’s North Division for most of the year, falling into the second spot on April 6 in what would prove to be a pivotal road game against Adirondack, acting as a prelude to their third playoff series in as many years against Adirondack.
However, it was a game that didn’t have to be pivotal. The Monarchs were coming into that week on a slide, and they had other slumps in mid-November and early January. Adirondack ended up getting home ice through the first two rounds by just one point; a point that probably could have been found if Monarchs came up with even one better result through those poor stretches.
Perhaps if that point was found and the Monarchs had home ice against Adirondack, then the monster truck rally booked at SNHU Arena during the last weekend of April wouldn’t have forced Manchester to play Adirondack on the road for four straight games in the series that ultimately did them in.
For Monarchs captain David Kolomatis, those lulls came in part due to the team’s talent, with key players getting stints at AHL locations throughout the year.
“With guys getting a chance in the American (hockey) league, you have young guys stepping into roles that they might not otherwise be used to,” he said.
The Monarchs ended the year under .500 when their opponents scored first, something that happened with increasing frequency later in the season, and they ended with a sub-.500 record against divisional opponent overall.
There are numerous other statistics showing the Monarchs other weaknesses, as well as their strengths, but ultimately what defined this team was focus.
On the nights when they had it, they’d score early and run their opponents off the rink. But when they faced a strong forecheck or had to overcome an early goal, their talent could not overcome some other intangible force that prevented them from playing up to their abilities.
“With the roster we had and our capability, I think we left something out there,” said Monarchs head coach Rich Seeley. “I thought there was more of a ceiling for us.”
This marked the seventh season in Manchester for Kolomatis, who spoke fondly about the Monarchs’ team culture.
It’s too soon to tell what the future might hold for his career, but he says that the Queen City has held a positive impact on his life.
“This is where I’ve spent now the majority of my career, the majority of my adult life, really, “ said Kolomatis. “It’s such a good organization top to bottom. You’ve got the facility, you’ve got the staff, and you’ve got players who want to play here.”
Off the Ice
The Monarchs finished with 100,543 fans in attendance during the 2017-’18 regular season, a drop of nearly 30,000 fans and almost 1,000 fans per game.
Only Kalamazoo, Norfolk, and Wheeling finished with fewer total fans, although Kalamazoo and Wheeling played in arenas that were almost half the size of SNHU Arena.
In contrast, Toledo finished the regular season with 273,613 fans in a facility that seats 2,400 fewer fans despite playing the same number of home games as the Monarchs.
On that note the Monarchs’ final game of the season, their Game 6 loss on May 7, had just 1,287 fans reported in attendance. That was by far the lowest attendance for any game during the first two rounds of the ECHL playoffs and smaller than all but 13 of the 972 regular season crowds throughout the league.
Final Three Stars
Third Star – Spencer Watson – One cliché about this hockey tradition is that the three stars are always either the goal scorers or the goaltender. However, it’s hard to pick out one player whose hard work stuck out on a team that took pride in its hard work, so we’re going to go with one of the Monarchs’ key goal scorers by default.
The 22-year-old London, Ontario native finished his first year split between the Monarchs and the Ontario Reign in the AHL, grabbing 25 of his 26 season goals and 45 of his 47 season points here in Manchester, averaging just under a point per game.
Second Star – Charles Williams – Another new professional hockey player, Williams performed well after transitioning from a college career at Canisius.
The fact that he was pulled from two games during the Adirondack series may be a black mark on a strong year that saw him finish just outside of the league’s Top 10 in save percentage and goals against average.
Top Star – Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman – The only skater on this year’s Monarchs with NHL experience came close to the league’s scoring title, even if that wasn’t on his radar.
Despite a mini-slump over the final few games of the season, LaVallee-Smotherman finished fourth in points (72) and third in goals (34), earning ECHL Player of the Week honors twice during the season.
We’ll Meet Again…Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When
It’s been a long season and we here at Manchester InkLink appreciate your support of our Monarchs coverage.
If you missed any of our game stories this year, here’s a list, along with a list of our weekly columns.
|4/13/18||Reading||2||Manchester||3||Monarchs need double overtime to beat Reading|
|4/14/18||Reading||2||Manchester||3||Monarchs need a second double overtime game to leave Manchester with 2-0 series advantage|
|4/16/18||Manchester||4||Reading||3||Monarchs take Game 3 in another overtime contest|
|4/18/18||Manchester||3||Reading||0||Monarchs complete Royal sweep in Pennsylvania|
|4/27/18||Manchester||5||Adirondack||3||Monarchs and Fisher Cats simultaneously defeat Thunder(s) on Friday night|
|4/28/18||Manchester||1||Adirondack||5||Thunder demolish Monarchs in Game 2|
|5/1/18||Manchester||3||Adirondack||5||Monarchs cannot overcome Adirondack’s five second period goals|
|5/3/18||Manchester||3||Adirondack||0||Monarchs return to MHT even with Adirondack|
|5/6/18||Adirondack||6||Manchester||0||Monarchs’ goaltending continues to struggle at home|
|5/7/18||Adirondack||3||Manchester||2||Monarchs’ season ends in triple overtime|