Monarchs digging for wins during 'dog days''
The Manchester Monarchs are headed to Newfoundland for a pair of games with the St. John's IceCaps, facing off tonight and Saturday in 6 p.m. contests.
Manchester (24-24-6, 54 points) took five out of six points last weekend to climb within three points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 22 games remaining in the regular season.
The IceCaps (23-30-3, 49) sit in 14th place and have won just two games in their last 10.
"It's two teams that are struggling to climb in the standings. These are the dog days of winter when you want to make up as much ground as you can and at the same time you face a lot of roadblocks," Monarchs head coach Mark Morris said. "It makes your job interesting and I think the guys are all forced to dig a little deeper and bring out their best when they're faced with these challenges."
The Monarchs have played well against the IceCaps this season, winning the previous two games in the St. John's building and holding a 4-1 season series edge.
"Every weekend is big for us now. With where we are in the standings, we need to make sure we go up there and get four points," Monarchs goalie Martin Jones said. "They're a good team, especially at home. It's a fun building to play in. They always pack them in so we've got to make sure we're ready to go."
The trips to Newfoundland are the longest for Manchester during the regular season and this will be the first trip out there for rookie forward Colton Yellow Horn.
"I'm excited for it. I think road trips are big. They bring the team together because you spend so much time together," said Yellow Horn, who has three goals and six assists in eight games with Manchester. "I'm looking forward to getting to know the guys more."
The Monarchs were hit hard (again) by injuries, with Tanner Pearson and David Meckler going down last week and Stefan Legein missing practice this week. Marc-Andre Cliche and Brian O'Neill remain out as well.
To add some bodies, the Monarchs signed forward Kris Belan and Ian O'Connor to the roster. Belan adds a physical element and O'Connor brings some home grown flavor to Manchester, hailing from Londonderry and having played with the Junior Monarchs.
The Monarchs return home Wednesday to host Bridgeport at 7 p.m. at Verizon Wireless Arena.