On Hockey: Monarchs riding some momentum into tonight
GOFFSTOWN -- Fresh off a solid weekend on the road, the Manchester Monarchs are looking to keep momentum rolling on a three-game homestand before the AHL All-Star break.
The Monarchs host Adirondack tonight at 7 at Verizon Wireless Arena and will welcome Atlantic Division rivals St. John's on Friday (7 p.m.) and Worcester on Saturday (7 p.m.).
Manchester (23-19-2, 48 points) dropped its franchise-worst seventh game in a row last Friday at Wilkes-Barre before recovering to sweep East Division powerhouse Hershey in games on Saturday and Sunday.
“I thought we played well all weekend. In the Wilkes-Barre game I think we deserved a little better,” said Monarchs forward Brandon Kozun. “We kind of didn't get all the bounces that game, but it was definitely a building block for us. We played well in that game and then carried it on to the two Hershey games. Any time you beat a team of that caliber in their building, it's definitely a good feeling.”
The Monarchs have struggled through injury woes as of late and chemistry has been a going concern, but the entire lineup came up big in the wins over the Bears. In Saturday's 5-4 win, five different Monarchs tallied goals and three players accounted for the four goals in Sunday's 4-2 win (with Stefan Legein scoring two).
Manchester should have forward Richard Clune back in the lineup tonight. Clune has been out for almost two months with an upper body injury. His persistent, pesky play style will be a boost.
The Monarchs will be without enforcer Justin Johnson, who is flying out today to his home state of Alaska to attend a funeral. Johnson will return Friday and said he was hopeful to get back in time for that game.
Tonight's tilt with Adirondack offers a shot at redemption for Manchester, which lost at Glens Falls, N.Y., to the host Phantoms on Jan. 14.
“We played them two weeks ago, and they beat us in their building,” said Monarchs defenseman Andrew Campbell. “Now it's up to us to return the favor and take two points away from them.”
The rest of the home slate before the break also offers a chance to walk the road to revenge. St. John's took two from the Monarchs earlier this month and the Sharks beat Manchester late in December.
“We'd like to keep things moving in a positive direction and it's going to take a big effort because these are teams that were a part of our skid,” Monarchs head coach Mark Morris said. “Hopefully, we remember what it took to beat a real good team and an organization known for being on top year in and year out.”
The IceCaps and Sharks are also two teams right in the thick of the Atlantic Division hunt. St. John's is in first place at 24-11-6 for 54 points. Worcester has 48 points just like the Monarchs, but have played four fewer games and stand at 20-12-8.
After Saturday, Manchester will be off for nearly a week until Feb. 3 as the league takes its all-star game break. It will be a good rest for everyone and the Monarchs are hoping to hit that pause with some stride.
“I'm encouraged by what I saw over the weekend,” Morris said. “We want to continue to focus on the good things we're doing and build that confidence level so we can have a good push from this point forward.”
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INJURED Monarchs defender David Kolomatis was on the ice before his teammates Tuesday as he continues to recover from a lower body injury. Kolomatis has slowly been skating more and will continue to push toward a return to the lineup, though he is still a ways off.
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THE TIM THOMAS White House kerfuffle won't go away, but the Boston Bruins are trying to move past it. Boston was set to take on Washington Tuesday night. Thomas was reportedly held out of the Bruins charity appearance in D.C. as well so as not to cause a distraction.
“We were honored and we went (to the White House),” Bruins coach Claude Julien told the Boston Globe. “Everybody makes their decisions. He chose not to come. Whether we support him or don't support him, that has nothing to do with hockey. What we are is a team and we'll continue to be a team.”
While Thomas has every right to make a political statement (though he denied it was political in nature), his actions come across as selfish. This was a team celebration and had nothing to do with politics, despite the event being hosted by President Obama.
Most of Thomas' teammates are Canadians or Europeans, so they likely don't have much interest in the U.S. political scene and most thought it was just plain cool to meet the President. For Thomas, who represented his country in the Olympics, to skip out on a celebration that honored an entire team's accomplishments is disappointing.
Ian Clark covers pro hockey for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.