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March 22. 2013 1:06AM

Monarchs' Jones is showing he belongs


Monarchs goalie Martin Jones makes a save during Friday's game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)
Last Friday, goaltender Martin Jones set a Manchester Monarchs franchise record for most career wins, topping Adam Hauser's mark of 61 compiled from 2003 to 2006.

When one considers Jones was undrafted and signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Los Angeles Kings as an unrestricted free agent 2008, last Friday's accomplishment says something about his drive to play on the professional level.

"Not getting drafted was pretty disappointing for me at an early age," said Jones. "But I owe a lot to the Los Angeles Kings to sign me and assign me in Manchester where I've been able to develop my game. I'm trying to make the most of my opportunity here."

Right now, Martin and his teammates are focusing on catching Hershey or Connecticut for one of the last two playoff berths in the Eastern Conference of the American Hockey League.

The Monarchs have 13 games remaining and find themselves tied with Albany for ninth place, three points behind the Bears and Whale. Albany has played three fewer games than Manchester, which makes this weekend an important one for the Monarchs.

On Saturday the Monarchs will host the Bears Saturday at 7 p.m. at Verizon Wireless Arena and will entertain St. John's in a 3 p.m. start on Sunday.

"We're not out of it yet, but we need to start winning games to give ourselves a chance," said Jones.

The Monarchs (29-27-3-4, 65 points) have lost their last three games and goaltending has not been the problem of late.

Last Saturday the Monarchs lost to Connecticut 3-0 at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., going 0-for-7 on the power play in that game. They also lost to Atlantic Division-leading Providence on Sunday, 3-1 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Rhode Island. Goalie Jean-Francois Berube played in that game against the Bruins.

The losing streak continued Wednesday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass., where the Monarchs lost to the Falcons, 2-0. Manchester started the game with a 5-on-3 advantage, but they never got a shot on goal during the 1:26 span on the power play.

Hubie McDonough, the Monarchs' director of hockey operations, said last week that left wingers Marc-Andre Cliche and Tanner Pearson could come off the injury list as early as this weekend, along with goalie Peter Mannino.

Jones, who carries a 19-21-4-4 mark with a 2.56 GAA in 44 games played this season, has received the bulk of the playing time since Mannino went on the disabled list.

He's acknowledges it's been a roller-coaster ride.

"It's really been a lot of ups and downs," said Jones, a native of North Vancouver, British Columbia. "Sometimes you get the bounces your way and other times you don't. But I feel I have played fairly consistently well of late."


jhabib@unionleader.com

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