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December 08. 2011 10:28PM

Monarchs' busy stretch continues this weekend

The Manchester Monarchs are in the midst of a stretch of nine games in 17 days, so four days off this week were much needed.

Manchester hits the road to play at Providence tonight (7 p.m.), at Springfield Saturday (7 p.m.) and closes the weekend with a visit from Portland Sunday at 3 p.m. at Verizon Wireless Arena for the annual “Teddy Bear Toss.”

The Monarchs played Friday, Saturday and Sunday last weekend, then had Monday off and practiced the rest of the week.

“Rest is as important as work,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “I think right now our guys have to have some time to heal and get their rest and get prepared for the next round of games that are coming up fast and furious before Christmas.”

Manchester (14-10-1, 29 points for second place in the Atlantic Division) has won eight of its last 10 games. Remarkably, all eight wins have been by a single goal.

“We’ll take them how we can get them,” said Monarchs goalie Jeff Zatkoff, who continues to rotate with Martin Jones to good effect. “Our team has a lot of character. That’s why we’re able to hold on to these one-goal games.”

The “Baby Bruins” are the opponent tonight, a team that finds itself in an unusual roster logjam.

Providence (8-14-3, 19 points, last place in the Atlantic) currently carries nine defensemen and only 14 forwards.

That situation has made for some major juggling on a nightly basis. None of it has helped a Bruins team that has only won once in its last 10 outings.

Saturday’s game with the Falcons (11-11-1) will be the first meeting between the teams since late October. The Falcons are 2-1 against Manchester this season.

For Sunday’s game with Portland, fans are asked to bring a new stuffed animal to toss on the ice to help children in need.

The Pirates (10-10-2, 22) enter the weekend losers of three in a row, but will be a challenge as always.

“Familiar foes that give us all we can handle,” Morris said of the weekend. “There’s no sure things in this league.”

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