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December 05. 2013 9:25PM

Monarchs continue their battle of the Atlantic

It's another weekend of Atlantic flavor for the Manchester Monarchs.

Manchester plays three Atlantic Division opponents, starting with a visit to Providence tonight at 7:05, heading to Lewiston to play the Portland Pirates at 7 p.m. Saturday and closing the weekend at home Sunday when Worcester visits for a 3 p.m. matinee at Verizon Wireless Arena.

"It's another big weekend, another three-in-three," said Monarchs forward Brandon Kozun. "Games are starting to pile up now and we've got to be sure we're mentally ready to go. It starts on Tuesday (with practice). It doesn't start on Friday. You've got to make sure you're ready to go for the weekend and take care of yourself all week."

The Monarchs remain atop the Atlantic with a record of 15-4-4 for 34 points. The P-Bruins (11-7-3) are tied for second place with St. John's in points with 25. Providence has won three in a row.

Portland (7-8-3 for 17 points) sits in last place and has lost three in a row.

"They're very good skating teams," said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. "Portland and Providence have exceptional speed and they play an aggressive game so we have to prepare ourselves mentally for a good skating game and doing things at a high pace in practice."

Worcester (8-8-1) is tied with Portland for last place in the division, but the Sharks have won three straight and beat Manchester in a shootout last weekend.

The Monarchs enter the weekend short on bodies, playing at the bare minimum of six defenseman and with just one healthy extra forward after Tanner Pearson was returned from Los Angeles.

Cameron Burt was a question mark for the weekend with an upper body injury.

This could be the weekend where rookie goalie Aaron Dell makes his AHL debut.

Morris indicated he might get Dell into one of last weekend's games, but ultimately stuck with rookie J.F. Berube, who has been playing well with starter Martin Jones called up to L.A. With another three games this weekend, Dell could get his shot at the crease.

iclark@unionleader.com


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