Seems like old times for MonarchsBy IAN CLARK
New Hampshire Union Leader
December 27. 2012 11:31PM
Familiar faces will be the theme this weekend for the Manchester Monarchs.
Just 48 hours after last playing against the Sharks in Manchester, the Monarchs visit Worcester tonight at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Manchester heads to Bridgeport to take on the Sound Tigers and head coach Scott Pellerin, the former Monarchs assistant coach.
Tonight's game will have the Monarchs (14-12-4, 32 points) trying to win their third straight game. Wednesday's 2-1 win over Worcester (14-11-3, 31) gave Manchester back-to-back wins for the first time since late October.
"It will be another real tight affair. Usually there's not much that separates the two teams. I think we're very similar in a lot of ways," said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. "The guys battle and it depends on the breaks you get and momentum you build as the game goes on. I'm sure it will be another knockdown, drag-out affair."
Manchester goaltender Peter Mannino got his second straight start on Wednesday and posted his third consecutive win. With Martin Jones mired in a franchise-record eight-game losing streak, Mannino could get another start tonight.
"It's hard to mess with success. I'll think about it and make that determination, but I was impressed with (Mannino's) compete level (Wednesday)," Morris said. "There were a couple chances that they had where he looked like he was down and out and somehow he kept the puck out of the net."
As for the meeting with the Sound Tigers Saturday, Manchester will try to reverse its fortunes against Pellerin's club. The Monarchs are 0-2 against Bridgeport and have been outscored 9-2.
"They're a real good hockey team. They've got some dynamic players that have impacted the games that we've been in. They're well-coached and they work hard," Morris said. "There's no secrets. Scott knows our team as well as anybody and obviously prepares his team well for us. Truthfully, I don't think we've brought our 'A' game in the previous matchups. I'm looking forward to improved effort on our part."
Manchester could also benefit from the return of forward Brandon Kozun, who sat out Wednesday's game with a leg bruise but might be ready to go tonight. Kozun (eight goals, 14 assists, 22 points) is tied with rookie Tyler Toffoli (13-9-22) for the team scoring lead.
The Monarchs have won two in a row, but the turnaround in play goes back four games when the pieces started to fall into place from an effort and intensity perspective, harkening back to the start of the season when Manchester opened 5-1-0.
"Everybody saw it in the beginning of the year, we've got a good team," Mannino said. "You take your rough patches and you build off it. We needed the two wins. We're building off the first win and hopefully we can go from there."