Bounce-back time for Monarchs
Goalie Martin Jones, making a save on Bridgeport's Tony Romano on Wednesday, will lead the Monarchs into St. John's Newfoundland for a two-game series starting tonight. (Mark Bolton/ UNION LEADER)
Four huge points will be on the line this weekend in St. John's, Newfoundland.
The Manchester Monarchs make their lone trek north this season for a pair of games at the St. John's IceCaps tonight and Saturday night. Manchester (21-13-2, 44 points) holds a slim lead in the Atlantic Division over St. John's (19-8-5, 43).
“It's exciting for everyone playing in a new building and lots of guys are going back home to Canada,” said Monarchs defenseman Thomas Hickey, who will be playing in the AHL all-star game at the end of the month. “Obviously, the points are huge and we've got a chance to make some ground in the standings.”
The IceCaps have won both meetings in Manchester this season, 1-0 in the second game of the year and 4-2 last month.
“We both want first place. Each game is a four-point swing,” said Monarchs goalie Jeff Zatkoff, the other Manchester entry in the all-star game. “They've had the first two so we'd like to grab that next one. The biggest thing is making sure we bounce back from (Wednesday) and have a good effort and play the way we're capable of playing.”
That Wednesday outing was one the Monarchs will be looking to put behind them quickly. Manchester came out flat and lost 4-0 to Bridgeport.
“These are things that young teams have to learn,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “This is a tough league. You can't just show up when you feel like it. You've got a job to do out there and you've got to make the most of your opportunities.”
The lackluster effort provides some teaching opportunities for Morris.
“We'll have their attention, no doubt,” he said. “There were too many missed coverages and lack of focus. That can't be tolerated. We've got to be demanding to ensure that we're going to have a level of success. We've come to appreciate what happens when we're on the same page but (Wednesday) I didn't feel as though we were collectively very good.”
The double-dip in Canada provides a solid test for the Monarchs physically and mentally as they face a good team while trying to rebound from a poor effort.
“They've got a lot of firepower. They have several players that have played with the (parent club) Winnipeg Jets and they've given us all we can handle and we're going to have to be at our best to go up there and play on their home turf,” Morris said. “It's going to take a lot of bounce-back on our part to bring our focus around and develop the energy and the type of commitment that it's going to take to win.”