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October 10. 2012 12:01AM

Ian Clark's On Hockey: Ex-Bruin Bodnarchuk fits in with Monarchs


BODNARCHUK 

Despite four years as a frequent opponent, Andrew Bodnarchuk is finding it easy to fit in with the Manchester Monarchs.

A fifth-round draft pick of the Boston Bruins in 2006, Bodnarchuk spent the past four seasons in Providence before signing a one-year contract with Los Angeles this offseason.

“Once you start the hockey process, as far as being in the dressing room and being around the guys, you click pretty quick,” Bodnarchuk said. “It’s funny with hockey players how quickly you mingle into the group. It’s nice. It looks like a nice city and it feels like a nice fit so far.”

Bodnarchuk played 270 games with the P-Bruins (and five with Boston), scoring 12 goals and 58 assists while playing solid defense in his own end.

“I think our forwards would tell you he’s a really tough guy to play against,” said Monarchs defenseman Thomas Hickey. “He moves the puck well, he’s a good defender and we’re learning he’s a really good teammate, too. He’s going to be a huge addition for us.”

On a Monarchs team stacked with veteran defenders such as Hickey, Andrew Campbell and David Kolomatis, Bodnarchuk is expected to fit right in.

“He plays a steady, strong, sure-handed game. He seems to have a good understanding of how to defend and outlet pucks,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “He’s a welcome addition on the blue line for sure.”

Bodnarchuk would have obviously preferred to see more action in the NHL, but has no regrets about his time in the Boston organization.

“It didn’t work out the way I would want it to as far as the opportunities I got up top but I have nothing but good things to say about the organization and the people there,” Bodnarchuk said. “That’s the team that drafted me so I went through countless camps and four years of playing pro and everyone I worked with along the way treated me great.”

Bodnarchuk will open the season against his former team on Friday at 7:05 in Providence.

“I kind of joked about it. The weirdness of it is going to be over once the puck drops,” Bodnarchuk said. “It’s going to be weird coming in the visitors’ door and staying in the visitors’ locker room and maybe the first time I get seated on that visitors’ bench but it’s kind of funny it worked out that way. But I’m really excited.”

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THE MONARCHS released defenseman Mike Matczak from his tryout agreement on Tuesday. Matczak was the eighth blue-liner on the roster and most teams will carry seven (with six suiting up on game night).

Other transactions are likely before Friday’s opener, especially at goaltender where Manchester must decide whether to keep rookie J.F. Berube as Martin Jones’ backup or send him to Ontario of the ECHL where he will get more playing time. Veteran Peter Mannino is the third goalie on the roster.

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Ian Clark covers pro hockey for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. He may be reached at iclark@unionleader.com.


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