Monarchs play three games in 44 hours
The Monarchs (8-6-1, 17 points for first place in the Atlantic Division) will host second-place Worcester (7-6-2, 16) tonight at 7 at Verizon Wireless Arena, visit red-hot Springfield (10-2-2, 22) Saturday night and then host the Pirates (6-7-2, 14) Sunday at 3 p.m.
The Monarchs come into tonight's game off a 5-1 win in Portland Tuesday that broke a three-game losing streak and featured a natural hat trick from rookie Tyler Toffoli. It was a nice way for the Monarchs to enter the two-day Thanksgiving break.
"We're very happy with the way we competed (Tuesday) night. The forecheck was exceptional, we had a great penalty kill and Martin Jones was stellar in the net," said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. "That's the type of effort we'd like to see every night."
Toffoli's hat trick (with three assists from Linden Vey) came on a night when he would later learn that his grandmother had passed away.
"He was on fire and strangely enough, he found out after the game that his grandmother had passed," Morris said. "It's funny how things work out that way. He got the news after the game and it's ironic that he had such a big night."
Morris indicated that Toffoli would likely miss tonight's game after returning home to Scarbourough, Ontario, to attend the service. Toffoli is expected to join the team in Springfield on Saturday.
Tuesday's win came courtesy not only of Toffoli's trick, but the standout play of Jones in goal and solid penalty killing. The PK unit had been struggling, allowing five goals in the previous 12 opponent power plays, but killed a remarkable 10 Portland chances Tuesday.
"I'd be remiss if I didn't highlight the bulk of our success coming because of our ability to kill penalties," Morris said. "The third period was a barrage of trips to the box and without good goaltending and penalty killing, that game could have gotten away from us."
With the triple-set of games, backup goalie Peter Mannino should get the start at least once this weekend.
"It's probably a good bet that we'll need his services to help us through," Morris said. "We've seen him play well before. We're going to need strong goaltending from both our players."