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January 22. 2013 10:11PM

Ian Clark's On Hockey: P-Bruins, Monarchs settle in


Manchester Monarchs goalie Peter Mannino makes a save in front of Providence Bruins Jamie Tardif during the first period of their AHL game at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester Saturday. (MARK BOLTON/UNION LEADER)

THREE PROVIDENCE PLAYERS got the call to start the NHL season with Boston, but the next wave of future Bruins will be on display in Manchester tonight.

The Manchester Monarchs will host the Providence Bruins at 7 p.m. at Verizon Wireless Arena. Forwards Chris Bourque and Lane MacDermid and goalie Anton Khudobin are up with the big club now, but there are several P-Bruins who are on the verge as well.

Providence has several players that have been given limited looks in the NHL, among them forwards Jordan Caron (71 NHL games), Carter Camper (three NHL games), Maxime Sauve (one NHL game) and defenseman Matt Bartkowski (nine NHL games).

Additionally, other players yet to make the NHL were invited to training camp with Boston last week, including forwards Ryan Spooner and Jamie Tardif and defenseman David Warsofsky. Since they were asked to camp, those three would project to be the "next in line."

Spooner (eight goals, 15 assists for 23 points and a plus-7 rating) and Tardif (18-7-25) trailed only Bourque in scoring on the P-Bruins roster. Warsofsky (3-8-11) has been a solid two-way blueliner for the past few seasons.

As for the others, Caron has been a disappointment in Providence. He has just six goals and two assists in 31 games after scoring 7-8-15 in 48 games with Boston last year.

Another player to watch is goaltender Niklas Svedberg. The rookie is 16-6-2 with a 2.37 goals-against average and one shutout. If Tuukka Rask or Khudobin were to go down, Svedberg would get a chance to at least sit on the bench with the big club.

Providence comes into tonight's game struggling to a 4-5-1 record in its last 10 and standing at 20-15-3 for 43 points and third place in the Atlantic Division.

Meanwhile, Manchester (20-17-4, 44 points, second place in the Atlantic) enters tonight's game having won all three games over the weekend and feeling good.

The Monarchs went through some rough roster recalibrations, losing defensemen Jake Muzzin and Andrew Bodnarchuk (just called back up) to Los Angeles. Additionally, forward Rich Clune was claimed by Nashville and defenseman Thomas Hickey by the New York Islanders.

Out of that turmoil, the Monarchs seemed to settle in with the smaller roster and increased ice time for some players.

"I think our veterans feel a little more comfortable now that they're in the slots that they were originally slotted to be in at the start of the year. Guys are getting their ice time and everybody is playing, so it makes for fun hockey," said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. "There's not as much uncertainty as there was in the early part of the year when we had a ton of players. Guys know their roles and you can see some continuity."

With Bodnarchuk called up this week, the Monarchs signed D man Chris Huxley to a pro tryout agreement. Huxley has been with the Kings' ECHL affiliate in Ontario, playing in 41 games with four goals and 21 assists. Huxley is 25, from Weymouth, Mass., and played at Harvard.

The Monarchs are also expected to have veteran Anthony Stewart in the lineup tonight. The 28-year-old Stewart was acquired in a trade with Carolina that sent Kevin Westgarth to the Hurricanes.

Stewart did not earn a spot in L.A. and was placed on waivers, clearing Tuesday to allow him to join the Monarchs. Stewart is a winger with 262 NHL games under his belt with Florida, Atlanta and Carolina. He has 27 career goals and 44 assists and his leadership will be an asset to a young Manchester team.

The Kings activated Anze Kopitar from the non-roster list.


Ian Clark covers pro hockey for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is iclark@unionleader.com.


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