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November 08. 2012 12:50AM

Ian Clark's On Hockey: Mustache time

Here come the mustaches.

Once again the Manchester Monarchs are taking part in the "Movember" movement and growing mustaches to raise awareness for cancers that affect men. On Saturday against Providence the Monarchs will celebrate "Mullets in Movember" with the popular mullet wig giveaway.

The annual event can be tough for some players, especially younger rookies.

"Some people, it's just in their genetics and they can't grow a mustache," said Monarchs forward Stefan Legein. "I know D Lo (Nick Deslauriers) can't grow one. He's a big boy and you can't fault him for trying."

Instead of starting the month clean-shaven, some of the players are opting to go scruffy and then shaving down to the 'stache later when it looks better to avoid to awkward early stages.

"You might as well have a good one if you're going to do it," said Legein, who usually sports some form of facial fur.

The players have fun with it and enjoy seeing all the mullets in the building as well.

"It's fun and it always draws a big crowd," Legein said. "The building is fun whenever it's full and it's nice whenever we can have those games when it's going to be sold out. Everyone gets a little more amped up for it."

Less than 2,000 tickets remain for Saturday's game, which starts at 7 p.m. The first 3,000 fans into the Verizon Wireless Arena will get free mullet wigs and mustaches. The Monarchs are also asking fans to bring in coats to donate to families in need.

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Monarchs backup goaltender Peter Mannino got his first start of the season against St. John's Wednesday night. Starter Martin Jones had played the previous eight games without a break.

It was a good night to send Mannino in for several reasons. First, Mannino played with St. John's last year (even getting in a game at the NHL level with Winnipeg) and goaltenders often play well against their former teams. Just ask Jeff Zatkoff, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goalie who shutout Manchester 3-0 last weekend after spending three seasons here in Manchester.

Second, the IceCaps have been struggling offensively, having been shut out in four out of the past six games. It's a roll of the dice because all it takes is one strong night to break an offensive funk.

Lastly, Jones has played the entire season and with games at home Friday (Bridgeport) and Saturday (Providence) it's a good chance to get him a rest in a busy week.

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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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