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December 13. 2012 8:44PM

Monarchs will log mileage this weekend

Road trips in the AHL don't get much tougher than the Manchester Monarchs' itinerary this weekend.

The Monarchs head to Lewiston, Maine, to play the Portland Pirates tonight at 7, then head in the other direction to play in Glens Falls, N.Y., Saturday at Adirondack before hosting Springfield on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Verizon Wireless Arena.

"That's a scheduling nightmare for sure," said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris.

For the record, according to Mapquest, the Manchester-to-Lewiston-to Glens Falls-back to Manchester trek is 11 hours, 22 minutes on a bus, 588 miles total.

The game in Lewiston allows the Pirates fans to thank that area of the state, which has a rich hockey tradition that, until they folded last year, included a popular junior team in the Lewiston Maineiacs.

Monarchs captain Marc-Andre Cliche, who is planning to return from an injury sustained last weekend, played for Lewiston from 2003 to 2007 and is looking forward to playing there again.

"I am really excited," Cliche said. "Obviously, I have a lot of, we can call it family now. I was there for four years so it will be good to see the people from there."

Manchester is struggling as of late, going 4-4-2 over the past 10 games and dropping into fourth place in the Atlantic Division at 11-10-3 for 25 points.

The Pirates (12-10-2, 26) have moved into third, thanks to a 6-4 mark in their last 10, including a 4-0 win over Manchester earlier this month.

"They're always tight (games) no matter what rink you play in," Morris said of the battles with Portland. "It will be a hard-fought affair and we'll be geared up for it."

Adirondack is 10-12-1 for fourth place in the Northeast Division. The Phantoms are led by two players who would be in the NHL if not for the lockout, former Monarch Brayden Schenn (11 goals, 15 assists, 26 points) and Sean Couturier (7-13-20).

Sunday's visit from the Falcons doesn't get any easier. Springfield is 14-4-4 for the second best record in the AHL.

Fans who attend Sunday's game are asked to bring new stuffed animals to donate for the "Teddy Bear Toss" to help children in need this holiday season.

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