Strong weekend lets Monarchs control their destiny

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Just two weeks left until we find out if the Kelly Cup Playoffs will return to New Hampshire.

It’s March 25, 2019 and here’s what’s been going on recently in Monarchs Country.

Wednesday, March 20 – Newfoundland 5, Manchester 1 (home)

Saturday, March 23 – Manchester 4, Worcester 1 (home)

 Sunday, March 24 – Manchester 6, Maine 2 (away)

The Manchester Monarchs now control their own playoff destiny heading into the beginning of spring, taking four of six points in what was a crucial week.

Strong wins against Worcester and Maine in particular followed a frustrating loss that Manchester Head Coach Doug Christiansen believes laid the foundation for the weekend’s wins.

“I liked the way we competed, I liked the way that we moved our feet all week,” he said. “I liked the way that we hunted pucks, I liked the way we defended and that carried over into the weekend.”

That frustrating loss on Wednesday against Newfoundland kept Manchester at just one point against the Growlers so far this season.

However, Christiansen notes that before Wednesday, the rest of Manchester’s losses to Newfoundland came when both teams had drastically different rosters.

They’ll have a pair of games next weekend in St. John’s to prove just how irrelevant those earlier losses were, sandwiched in between divisional road contests against Brampton and Worcester.

Ultimately, the final determination of who makes the playoffs is still uncertain, but Christiansen is confident that the Monarchs’ fate is in their hands if they can focus on what’s immediately in front of them.

“It’s obviously an important trip, but there are a lot of games to play for everybody against each other, there are a lot divisional games,” he said.  “For us, we just need to focus on playing our best hockey and if we do that, the results will take care of themselves.”

The upcoming week also holds a different lineup, as Drake Rymsha returns to Ontario while Michael Doherty and Sam Kurker return to Manchester.

Doherty, 25, returns to the Monarchs after being loaned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on February 11. In his time with the Bruins, Doherty skated in nine games, recording no points and 16 penalty minutes.

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound native of Reading, Mass., played in 43 games for the Monarchs before his call-up, where he scored five goals and 21 assists for 26 points. In his ECHL career, Doherty has logged 111 games in Manchester, while scoring 25 goals and 45 assists for 70 points.

Kurker, 24, returns from his second AHL stint of the season, this time with the Binghamton Devils, where he skated in seven games, recording two points on a goal and an assist. In 22 AHL games this year between the Devils and the Ontario Reign, Kurker has recorded six points on three goals and three assists.

The 6-foot-2, 203-pound native of Boston, Mass., has 32 games under his belt in a Monarchs uniform this season, racking up 27 points on 14 goals and 13 assists. In his two seasons in Manchester, Kurker has 56 points on 26 goals and 30 assists in 67 games.

“For us, it’s great to see players move on and get opportunities, so we’re happy for Drake,” said Christiansen. “But getting Kurker and Michael Doherty back really help us. They’re two players that skate well, and really compete. They understand what we’re trying to do here in Manchester.”

Top Star: Daniil Miromanov – (2 goals, 1 assist, 10 shots +4)

Second Star: Tony Cameranesi – (1 goal, 3 assists, 7 shots, -1)

Third Star: Nic Pierog (1 goal, 2 assists, 7 shots, -1)