Sunshine State brings Manchester struggles

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The Manchester Monarchs have returned from Florida, but it certainly wasn’t a vacation.

It’s February 19, 2019. Here’s what’s been going on lately in Monarchs Country.

Wednesday, Feb. 13 – Jacksonville 5, Manchester 2 (road)

Friday, Feb. 15 – Florida 6, Manchester 3 (road)

Saturday, Feb. 16 – Manchester 4, Florida 3 (road)

Sunday, Feb. 17 – Orlando 8, Manchester 2 (road)

 

Although the Monarchs posted successful week against non-divisional foes before heading south, they couldn’t keep the momentum going.

Charles Williams continued his road struggles in net against the Icemen to start the trip, and the Monarchs escaped with a split against the South Division leading Florida Everblades.

In both Everblades matchups, the contests ultimately came down to special teams. On Friday, Florida grabbed a pair of late game power play goals that forced Manchester to bring out the extra skater, allowing the hosts to grab an empty netter with four minutes left to seal the win. One day later, Manchester’s four-goal second period culminated with Tony Cameranesi’s power play goal, providing a two-goal lead that Florida could not overcome.

According to Manchester Monarchs Head Coach Doug Christiansen, the physicality of those games, plus a 2 a.m. arrival time in Orlando, played a huge factor in Sunday afternoon’s trip ending blowout.

Scheduling notwithstanding, Christiansen believes that physical style of play served as a contrast to games in the North Division, which has five of the bottom six teams in the ECHL when it comes to penalty minutes. Indeed, Manchester has served the fewest penalty minutes in the league, just over half of Orlando’s tally so far this year.

“Our division is much more skating,” said Christiansen.  “Our division is very disciplined and doesn’t have some of the extra-curriculars the South has. We’re built for speed, we’re built to play today’s game. There’s no question, we matched Florida’s physicality on Saturday. But as we get into tougher games, we need to elevate our physicality to get rewarded at the net.”

Despite the trio of losses, including leaving the game after just 34 minutes on Sunday, Christiansen still has confidence in Williams. After Sunday’s contest, Williams is ninth in the league in saves (884) and third in the league in save percentage among goaltenders with appearing in at least 20 games (92.1%)

The Monarchs have just one non-divisional game left in the regular season, coming on Sunday, Mar. 10 against the Norfolk Admirals.

This week, they return home for a Wednesday contest against the Worcester Railers (7 p.m.) followed by home games on Friday and Saturday against the Reading Royals and Maine Mariners (7 p.m. and 6 p.m.)

Three Stars

Top Star: Tony Cameranesi (3 goals, 2 assists, -4, 15 shots on goal)

Second Star: Nic Pierog (2 goals, 3 assists, -7, 10 shots on goal)

Third Star: Spencer Watson (1 goal, 3 assists, -2, 25 shots on goal)