One final look back at the 2017-’18 Monarchs season

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Manchester’s Colton Saucerman delivers a vicious check to Adirondack’s Tim Harrison (credit – Andrew Camp)

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.

Kolomatis

“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.

Regular Season

10/14/17 Manchester 3 Worcester 4 Monarchs Drop Season Opener to Railers
10/15/17 Manchester 4 Brampton 2 Manchester Monarchs Win First Game of 2017-’18 Campaign
10/17/17 Manchester 5 Brampton 4 Monarchs Leave Canada with Sweep of the Beast
10/20/17 Manchester 5 Adirondack 6 Adirondack Hands Manchester First Shootout Loss of 2017-’18 Campaign
10/21/17 Worcester 2 Manchester 0 Monarchs Lose Home Opener to Worcester
10/27/17 Greenville 2 Manchester 5 Lowry, LaVallee-Smotherman Power Monarchs to 5-2 Win
10/28/17 Greenville 4 Manchester 1 Monarchs Split Weekend Series With Greenville
11/1/17 Manchester 7 Norfolk 1 Monarchs Dominate Norfolk
11/3/17 Manchester 4 Norfolk 1 Monarchs Win Second Straight Versus Norfolk
11/4/17 Manchester 3 Norfolk 4 Monarchs Leave Virginia With A Loss
11/10/17 Jacksonville 1 Manchester 2 Monarchs Freeze Icemen, 2-1
11/11/17 Manchester 6 Worcester 3 Monarchs Maximize Shots Versus Worcester
11/12/17 Worcester 2 Manchester 5 Monarchs Win Third Game in Three Days
11/15/17 Reading 5 Manchester 3 Royals Snap Monarchs’ Hot Streak
11/17/17 Worcester 2 Manchester 1 Monarchs Can’t Keep Up With Worcester
11/17/17 Adirondack 5 Manchester 4 Monarchs Can’t Finish Late Comeback
11/19/17 Manchester 1 Worcester 4 Monarchs Lose Third Straight This Weekend
11/22/17 Manchester 2 Utah 1 Monarchs Break Losing Streak in Utah
11/24/17 Manchester 8 Utah 3 Monarchs Add Second Win Versus Utah
11/25/17 Manchester 4 Utah 1 Monarchs Complete Sweep in Utah
12/2/17 Manchester 3 Worcester 2 Monarchs’ Power Play Fuels Win Over Worcester
12/8/17 Norfolk 2 Manchester 5 Saucerman is the Man for Manchester
12/9/17 Reading 0 Manchester 5 Williams Earns First Career Shutout for Monarchs
12/10/17 Norfolk 1 Manchester 2 Buckles Gives Monarchs The Weekend Sweep
12/13/17 Manchester 5 Jacksonville 6 Icemen and Monarchs Trade Flurry of Goals
12/15/17 Manchester 3 Greenville 4 Monarchs Game Suspended Until Friday
12/15/17 Manchester 8 Greenville 4 Monarchs Leave Greenville with Boatload of Goals
12/20/17 Manchester 4 Adirondack 2 Monarchs Defeat Thunder
12/22/17 Manchester 5 Reading 2 Four Second Period Goals Propel Monarchs to Victory
12/23/17 Manchester 6 Reading 2 Monarchs Win Again in Reading
12/27/17 Manchester 1 Adirondack 3 Monarchs Cannot Duplicate Early Goal in Wednesday Loss
12/30/17 Manchester 5 Worcester 4 Monarchs Conclude December Road Trip on High Note
12/31/17 Worcester 2 Manchester 4 Monarchs close out 2017 with a win
1/3/18 Manchester 3 Adirondack 4 Thunder defeat Monarchs in overtime
1/5/18 Manchester 4 Wheeling 7 Monarchs give up hat trick in Friday loss
1/6/18 Manchester 0 Toledo 3 Monarchs road woes continue
1/12/18 Worcester 2 Manchester 1 Monarchs’ losing streak continues with another overtime loss
1/13/18 Worcester 1 Manchester 3 Three fights, three goals in Monarchs victory over Worcester
1/14/18 Reading 6 Manchester 2 Monarchs fall on Sunday after atrocious second period
1/19/18 Wheeling 2 Manchester 3 Monarchs bounce back against Wheeling
1/20/18 Jacksonville 4 Manchester 2 Monarchs drop first part of Jacksonville weekend series
1/21/18 Jacksonville 4 Manchester 10 Monarchs tie franchise scoring record in penalty-filled affair
1/27/18 Manchester 5 Wheeling 2 Monarchs withstand Nailer barrage to reassert North Division dominance
1/28/18 Manchester 2 Wheeling 4 Nailers regain tie with Monarchs atop North Division standings
1/31/18 Brampton 3 Manchester 5 Monarchs get ugly win versus Brampton
2/2/18 Brampton 5 Manchester 6 Watson’s first career hat trick gives Monarchs overtime victory
2/3/18 Adirondack 3 Manchester 8 LaVallee-Smotherman hat trick leads Monarchs to “real” win
2/10/18 South Carolina 1 Manchester 0 One South Carolina goal is enough to defeat Monarchs
2/11/18 South Carolina 1 Manchester 2 Monarchs leave town with win over Stingrays
2/15/18 Manchester 7 Greenville 2 Monarchs dominate Greenville, Watson grabs second hat trick
2/16/18 Manchester 5 Atlanta 2 Monarchs’ southern success continues with Atlanta win
2/18/18 Manchester 5 Atlanta 2 Monarchs wrap up southern swing with another win
2/23/18 Adirondack 2 Manchester 3 Monarchs grab overtime victory in tight contest against Adirondack
2/24/18 Worcester 4 Manchester 1 Worcester ties up season series with Monarchs following Saturday contest
2/25/18 Reading 2 Manchester 1 Komm’s return to Manchester helps Reading to victory
2/28/18 Wheeling 6 Manchester 3 Wheeling’s six goals brings Monarchs’ losing streak up to three games
3/2/18 Adirondack 6 Manchester 1 Monarchs cannot stop Thunder offense
3/3/18 Adirondack 3 Manchester 1 Monarchs lose second game in as many days to Thunder
3/4/18 Manchester 4 Worcester 1 Monarchs break losing streak in Worcester
3/9/18 Manchester 5 Adirondack 4 Monarchs exact vengeance in upstate New York
3/11/18 Norfolk 3 Manchester 4 Monarchs post overtime win over Norfolk
3/16/18 Utah 4 Manchester 5 Marcinew provides game winner in see-saw Utah clash
3/17/18 Utah 2 Manchester 3 Monarchs win third straight overtime game in a row, sweeping Utah
3/21/18 Reading 1 Manchester 4 Monarchs’ winning streak continues in connected effort
3/23/18 Adirondack 0 Manchester 5 Monarchs on cusp of playoff berth after exceptional Friday performance
3/24/18 Adirondack 5 Manchester 3 Monarchs earn playoff spot despite loss
3/28/18 Manchester 0 Reading 6 Monarchs shut out in Pennsylvania
3/30/18 Manchester 4 Reading 5 Friday’s Monarchs game comes down to a single shot
3/31/18 Manchester 2 Wheeling 5 Monarchs’ loss in West Virginia prolongs North Division drama
4/6/18 Manchester 2 Adirondack 3 Thunder remove Monarchs from top of North Division
4/7/18 Worcester 3 Manchester 2 Monarchs drop sixth straight game
4/8/18 Manchester 2 Worcester 0 Monarchs win not enough for division title

Playoffs

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

Columns

10/27/2017 Monarchs on the hunt for Swamp Rabbits with 2 weekend matchups
11/7/2017 Monarchs Return from Virginia to Face Jacksonville, Worcester
11/14/2017 Are Monarchs Opponents Fearing The ‘Stache?
11/20/2017 Monarchs Seek Reboot With Utah Trip
11/28/2017 Monarchs Return to New England on High Note
12/4/2017 Who’s Leading the Monarchs’ Divisional Foes at the Quarter-Season Mark?
12/12/2017 Monarchs Head South Following Pretty Play, Ugly Sweaters
12/19/2017 Monarchs Head North Leaving Trail of Goals Behind
12/26/2017 The Monarchs Return Home for the New Year
1/2/2018 December was a good month for the Monarchs
1/9/2018 Monarchs begin 2018 on a sour note
2/1/2018 Monarchs grab four out of six points despite a poor week
2/8/2018 Jordan works off the cookies as Monarchs submit strong week
2/13/2018 Monarchs head south following split against Stingrays
2/20/2018 Monarchs leave the south on track for playoff berth
2/27/2018 Monarchs muddle through week, set for homestand’s second half
3/6/2018 Monarchs refocus in midst of slump and changes
3/14/2018 A return to form (and a return for Rome)
3/21/2018 Tah tah, Utah! Time to finish off the Monarchs’ final homestand
3/25/2018 Monarchs continue playoff tradition, but can they win the division?
4/3/2018 Monarchs struggle on the road
4/9/2018 Monarchs set to face Reading in playoffs
4/21/2018 Looking back at the Monarchs’ sweep