Ian Clark's On Hockey: Monarchs' Bodnarchuk fitting right in
The 24-year-old defenseman from Drumheller, Alberta, played four seasons with Providence before coming to Manchester after signing a one-year deal with the parent club Los Angeles Kings as a free agent.
Through the first 21 games of the season, Bodnarchuk has provided stability on a blue line that has been hit hard by injuries.
"He's an exceptionally strong skater. He recovers quickly. He adds a physical element and I think that he's been a real good addition to our blue line," said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. "He's a no-nonsense type of guy. He's serious about his job as a professional hockey player and he sets a good example for the other guys in the room."
Bodnarchuk is happy with the way things have gone thus far.
"I feel really good about the way I'm fitting in the system and everything," he said. "It's an aggressive style and I think because of my skating I've grasped it pretty quickly. I feel like I have a nice role on the team."
Bodnarchuk is on pace to shatter his previous career scoring marks. His high-water prior to this season was five goals and 12 assists for 17 points last season. Bodnarchuk already has 2-8-10 (fifth on the team in scoring) and has proven to be a good puck-mover on the power play.
"I don't think I'm the marquee part of the unit by any means. I move the puck around and get shots through when I can," Bodnarchuk said. "In four years in Providence I never really had much power play time so it's something that's new for me."
Bodnarchuk, who has five NHL games with Boston on his resume, also sits at plus-8 in the plus-minus category and has teamed nicely alongside Thomas Hickey as a strong defensive pairing.
"He's a good player. We've been playing together a lot. He talks a lot and it seems he's always supporting me," Hickey said. "If you're looking for an outlet (pass) under heat, he's always in the right spot and that makes it easier to play defense. As far as pinning and sealing goes, he's a strong guy and keeps things along the wall and breaks the puck out."
The transition to Manchester has also been easy from a personal standpoint.
"I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a team anywhere, whether it's junior or college, pro, that a guy walks in and says he has a tough time fitting in or getting to know the guys," Bodnarchuk said. "As far as the hockey community, everyone is welcoming. My girlfriend is living here with me and there's some great people here that she's met that are involved with the team as far as girlfriends of guys on the team so I think the transition has been pretty smooth."
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THE MONARCHS (10-8-3) play at Providence Friday night and are expected to have defenseman Andrew Campbell and forward Andrei Loktionov back in the lineup. The team also signed veteran defenseman Bryan Rodney on Monday and he should be a help as well.
"We're looking forward to another veteran that can help to get the puck in the hands of the skill that we have up front and a guy that has some offensive flair to his game," Morris said.
Rodney turned down an offer from the organization when Campbell and David Kolomatis went down with injuries. He was happy to get a second chance.
"They contacted me right after a couple guys got hurt early in the season but it wasn't as much of a commitment as I was looking for," Rodney said. "A month or so later they called back and said 'why don't you come join us for the rest of the year' and I think I hit my head on the ceiling I jumped so high with excitement. I feel lucky and honored to join the team."
The 28-year-old London, Ontario, native has played 34 NHL games, mostly with Carolina. Rodney recorded a goal and 12 assists in the NHL and had a career-best 47 points (9-38-47) with Charlotte of the AHL in 2010-11.
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Manchester released defenseman Vincent LoVerde Tuesday and announced the signing of backup goaltender Peter Mannino to a one-year AHL contract. Mannino had previously been on a pro tryout agreement. He is 3-1-0 with a 1.87 goals-against average.
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Ian Clark covers pro hockey for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.