Monarchs look to get on track in Pink in the Rink game tonight
MANCHESTER - It's no surprise to hear Mark Morris say he hates losing. In fact, Monday night he said he's experiencing a challenge like no other in his sixth season with the Manchester Monarchs.
"It tests your patience," said Morris of the five-game losing streak the Monarchs currently own entering tonight's third annual Pink in the Rink 7 p.m. hockey encounter against the Providence Bruins at Verizon Wireless Arena.
Spearheaded by the Monarchs Care Foundation, the Norris Cotton Cancer Center and Catholic Medical Center, the Manchester players will be playing tonight's game to raise awareness and money to fight breast cancer. The Monarchs will wear specialty pink jerseys and skate with pink tape on their hock
The Monarchs also hope to reward the hometown fans with a victory, something Morris and his team have not tasted in 20 days. Manchester's last win was on Jan. 23 in the Queen City against the Bruins who were blanked that day, 3-0.
During their five-game losing streak, Manchester has amassed just six goals and have allowed 16. The team has tumbled to 12th place in the Eastern Conference with a 21-22-2-2 record.
"No one likes to lose and I will be the first one to admit it's not a fun experience," said Morris. "Being negative doesn't help and believe me, we're doing everything possible to break this streak. It tests (the coach's) patience, and the players' patience. We have proud guys in our organization who want to win."
Diehard fans who follow the team know the Monarchs have gone through a transition period since the NHL ended its lockout.
The team recently lost Marc-Andre Cliche, who had surgery to repair a sports hernia. Just weeks before that, the team lost veterans Rich Clune and Thomas Hickey to waiver claims, and call-ups to the Kings' organization have turned the Monarchs into a more youthful, but inexperienced squad.
"There's no doubt a lot of things have changed over the last few months," said Morris. "It's been difficult trying to find the chemistry and consistency."
While it's a different challenge - comparing it to other challenges with other teams - Morris is still marching on to find the solution and the right balance.
"We continue to coach, we continue to teach," he said. "Many of our veteran players are no longer here, but we're counting on many other players here to continue to bring their best effort."
Right now Morris has very few options to spark his offense. Linden Vey, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson continue to lead the way, but Morris said it all comes down to execution. "We must focus on executing plays at both ends of the ice," he said. "Good things come when teams execute well."
Between the pipes, the team will have to rely on Martin Jones. Morris said he doesn't expect Peter Mannino to come off the injury list until possibly some time next week at the earliest.
"Martin is playing with poise and confidence," said Morris. "He's giving us a chance to win."
The team will host St. John's back-to-back Friday and Saturday before Manchester embarks on a six-game road trip.
"Every point is important from this point on," said Morris. "We have 21 wins and if I remember right, we needed 39 last year to make the playoffs. Every game is important, home and away. It's not going to be easy because we're facing many scenarios beyond our control. But we're going to battle every game, I can assure you that."