Eastern supremacy the Monarchs' goal
New Monarchs goalie Patrik Bartosak, shown during practice on Tuesday, may get a start this weekend. Manchester plays home games tonight and tomorrow afternoon before visiting Worcester on Sunday afternoon. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
The Manchester Monarchs will face three teams this weekend that are on the outside of the playoff picture, starting tonight at 7 p.m. when Hartford visits Verizon Wireless Arena.
“Even if they’re out, these teams are playing looser,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “That’s not a bad thing when guys are playing for the sake of being themselves and using that as motivation to try and beat teams that are still alive.”
The Monarchs need nine points to claim the Atlantic Division crown, by some combination of their own wins or St. John’s IceCaps’ losses.
Portland is already out of the playoff race, but the Pirates have proven they love to play spoiler. Portland defeated Manchester 7-5 in Lewiston, Maine, last weekend.
Manchester will be without one of its top defenseman in Vinny LoVerde (lower body injury), who is expected back knext week. Londonderry’s Ian O’Connor (lower body) is out for a couple more weeks.
Saturday’s game might feature rookie goalie Patrik Bartosak’s first AHL start as well. He mopped up for J.F. Berube in the loss to Portland. Morris said Berube deserved a rest of at least one game this weekend.