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December 19. 2013 7:33PM

Holiday break awaits Monarchs after weekend action

Two more games, and then it's some much-needed rest for the Manchester Monarchs.

The Monarchs host Portland at 7 p.m. Friday night at Verizon Wireless Arena and then travel to Bridgeport, Conn., Saturday night before earning four days off for the Christmas break.

Manchester remains atop the Atlantic Division at 19-5-5 for 43 points. Portland (10-9-5, 25 points) is in fourth place and fell to the Monarchs 4-3 in Lewiston, Maine, two weeks ago in the most recent meeting between the teams. The Monarchs also defeated Bridgeport (10-13-4) on Sunday.

"Having won the last game against (Portland) no doubt they will be trying to knock us off on our home ice. We're hopeful that with some rest we can get some line combinations together," said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. "We just had a real nail-biter against Bridgeport in our own building and they're a team that's getting better with time. It should be another big challenge for us as a hockey team."

The injury bug has been feasting on the Manchester roster as of late.

"The injuries are racking up. I'm looking at my board here and (Brian) O'Neill, (Ian) O'Connor, (Zach) O'Brien, (Chris) Huxley, (Sean) Backman and (goalie Mathias) Neiderberger, who would be here if he were healthy, those are six injuries right there," Morris said. "These are long-term injuries to these players."

The Monarchs survived—in fact thrived—last weekend despite the depleted roster. Manchester won all three of its games Friday through Sunday.

"Hopefully, we start to see these guys coming off the injured list in the near future. In their absence, everyone has picked up the slack and that's the way you'd hope things would unfold," Morris said. "To have the additional firepower, especially in three-game weekends and that energy, makes the quick turnaround a lot more bearable."

Following the Christmas break the Monarchs will host Portland Thursday, Dec. 26 at 7 p.m., St. John's Saturday, Dec. 28 and Hartford Sunday, Dec. 29.

iclark@unionleader.com


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