Ian Clark's On Hockey: Pellerin a good student
Manchester Monarchs fans get outfitted in purple mullets before the start of their game at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester on Saturday. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)
There's a lot of hockey to be played between now and the playoffs, but it's not too big a stretch to project a collision course between teacher and student.
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers, coached by former Manchester Monarchs assistant coach Scott Pellerin, came to town Friday and defeated the Monarchs 5-2. It was the first regular season meeting between Pellerin and Manchester head coach (and mentor) Mark Morris.
The Sound Tigers win improved them to 7-3-0 while Manchester fell to 6-3-1. Both teams are expected to contend for their respective division titles (the Atlantic for Manchester and Northeast for Bridgeport) and could very well meet in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Pellerin's return Friday was a good one.
"I have great memories here of my last six years here," Pellerin said. "To coach against coach Morris was a lot of fun because I learned so much from him and have so much respect for what he's done and how he helped me in my coaching career. It was fun to be on the other side. It was a little weird at times."
Pellerin's squad came out and blitzed the Monarchs with 21 first period shots and led 1-0 and 2-1 before breaking the game open in the third for a 5-2 win.
"They played real well. They made us earn our ice," Morris said. "They were prepared. Obviously, he did a good job getting them ready. Credit him and his staff for coming in here ready to play."
The Sound Tigers are a young team and the parent club New York Islanders haven't exactly been the cream of the NHL crop over the past few seasons so just exactly what Pellerin would have to work with was a question mark.
"We have a real young team but our young guys are playing hard and they're playing the right way," Pellerin said. "They're making plays in the tough areas and making plays at the blue line and working the puck low and playing physical. We know how we have to play to be successful."
From a personal standpoint, the new coaching gig has been a challenge for Pellerin. His wife Jennifer and three children are at home in Windham while he coaches in Connecticut.
"It has been (tough). My wife has taken on a lot of the responsibilities," Pellerin said. "I have two kids who play hockey and one who is a cheerleader and plays field hockey. So four nights out of the week she's at the hockey rink herself. I try to come back as much as I can to support (them) when we have days off. I had the (team) bus stop over at 93-North at home so I could go to my daughter's parent-teacher conference."
Pellerin, a former University of Maine star and Hobey Baker Award winner, is also working side-by-side with a University of New Hampshire Wildcat as well. Eric Boguniecki is one of two assistant coaches with Bridgeport.
"So far, so good. We always bug each other (about the Maine/UNH rivalry)," Pellerin said. "He's been great, he's got a great personality and a hard work ethic and a great feel for the team. I was the new guy coming in this season and he's got a great sense for our team and what our team needs. I couldn't imagine being where we are today without the help and support that Eric has given me and also Doug Holewa."
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With defenseman Andrew Campbell out of action for a few months with an injury, the Monarchs are down one assistant captain. Enter Rich Clune.
Now in his fifth pro season, Clune was awarded the "A" on his jersey last week.
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Ian Clark may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.