2017 is almost done, and that means the boys in purple and black are almost done with their weeks on the road.
It’s Dec. 26, 2017, here’s your Manchester Monarchs Week in Review.
Was the melting ice in South Carolina last week a turning point? Or just a return to the dominant form they’ve shown for most of the season?
Either way, the Monarchs built upon their sterling performance in Greenville last week after returning north of the Mason/Dixon Line with a win against Adirondack on Wednesday and back-to-back wins against Reading on Friday and Saturday.
In those three games, they outscored their opponents 17-6, extending their current winning streak to four games and putting them at 8-2 for the month of December up to this point.
As of today, they also lead the league in goals scored, in road wins and they’ve allowed the lowest number of goals among any team in the North Division.
But perhaps the most telling thing about the depth of this team: they currently don’t have a league leader in any category. On any night, it seems like any Monarch can rise to be the hero, if it’s just one.
Top Star: Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman: He’s gotten a point in his last four appearances and six of his last ten.
His four-goal week puts him at 15 for the season, one ahead of Zac Lynch and Joel Lowry for the team lead.
Second Star: Charles Williams: Offense wins games, but defense wins championships and Williams is at the heart of Manchester’s strong defensive showing this year.
Whatever happened in Jacksonville seems to be just an aberration, as Williams returns to the ECHL’s top five in save percentage and goals against average with strong performances against Adirondack and Reading.
Plus, with strong goaltending in Los Angeles and Ontario, it looks like he’ll be with us in Manchester throughout the Kelly Cup playoffs.
Third Star: Mikkel Aagaard: Half a dozen Monarchs had at least one point over this week’s three games, but Aagard had almost as many assists on his own (7) as the Monarchs’ opponents combined (8) over that stretch.
He’s been in Manchester for ten games now and has recorded at least one point in all but two of them.
Beyond the Blue Lines
Joel Lowry returns after a one-game loan to the AHL’s Utica Comets.
Lowry played 40 games in the AHL for the Ontario Reign last season and the season before, but it remains to be seen whether this year’s quality performance in Manchester can overcome a history of recurring back injuries.
The Monarchs are almost home after their multi-week road trip.
On Wednesday, Manchester returns once more to New York State for a showdown against the Adirondack Thunder before a home-and-home against the Worcester Railers on the final two days of the calendar year.