Ian Clark's On Hockey: Andreoff brings veteran presence to Monarchs
MANCHESTER -- NOW in his second full year with the Manchester Monarchs, Andy Andreoff has emerged as a sort of Swiss Army knife for the team.
From enforcer to penalty killer to power play component to skating alongside the playmakers, the 22-year-old left wing has done it all for the Monarchs.
“He’s a tough guy around the league to play against and he has a lot of respect from people on our team. With all the changes we’ve had, he’s played almost every forward position,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “We’ve asked him to be on specialty teams, both penalty kill and power play. I think that his confidence is starting to grow.”
A third round pick (80th overall) by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2011 entry draft, the Pickering, Ontario, native said that fitting into different roles is nothing new.
Andreoff played five seasons of junior hockey with Oshawa of the Ontario Hockey League, maxing out in 2011 when he scored 33 goals and 42 assists while still managing to rack up 109 penalty minutes.
“I’m kind of used to it. In junior hockey, I did the exact same thing, power play, third or fourth line, hitting, fighting,” Andreoff said. “I’m used to it by now and at the pro level, the more games I play in this league the better I get at it.”
Andreoff joined the Monarchs at the tail end of the 2012 season, playing in five games to close the regular season and another four in the playoffs. Last year was his first full stint as a pro and Andreoff scored 13 goals and 13 assists with 111 penalty minutes in 69 games.
With the development of Andreoff’s game comes the fine-tuning from the coaches.
“The big thing with Andy is that we’re trying to get more urgency out of his game,” Morris said. “We still want to bring more urgency to his overall game and have him work on his quickness and quicker puck movement. All those qualities are there and now it’s a matter of putting it all together.”
And he’s been listening.
“Mark has been on me a bit about that, just being ready no matter what happens,” Andreoff said. “On the penalty kill you’ve got to be ready and in your spot and I need to be quicker with my first couple steps, that extra little jump for me to make the next step to the NHL. I’ve just got to keep working at it and I get more confidence every game. I’ve been getting comfortable here.”
The Monarchs have one of the youngest rosters in the NHL, which means that even in his second year, Andreoff can be a leader. It’s a role he has taken to.
“We’ve got a really young team so someone has to step up,” Andreoff said. “I’ve been here for two years and there are other guys that have been here a few years. Someone has to step up and I’ve been doing a good job with it.”
It’s yet another tool for the Swiss Army knife.
BIG SPLASH FOR BARTOSAK: Rookie goalie Patrik Bartosak has made a good impression in a short time with the Monarchs.
He played some mop-up duty against Portland nine days ago that earned him a start this past weekend against the Pirates. He played well in a comeback win and got the nod to play again on Sunday, beating Worcester.
While another rookie, J.F. Berube, is still the top dog in the Monarchs net, Bartosak offers a nice safety net.
“I’m sure the locker room feels good knowing they’ve got another goalie that can stand in there and get the job done for us,” Morris said. “His stance is very similar to (Kings starter) Jonathan Quick. He looks like he’s ready to spring. The puck doesn’t seem to bounce off him. He seems to absorb pucks pretty well and I think as we work with him on his puck skills it will really add to his whole package.”
PIRATES ON THE PLATE: The Monarchs (45-19-8 for 98 points) play in Lewiston, Maine, tonight at 7 p.m. against the Portland Pirates. The game was originally the regular season finale (April 20) but was moved.
Manchester is looking to lock up first place in the Eastern Conference. With four games remaining, the Monarchs have a four-point lead on Springfield (44-21-6 for 94) for home ice through to the conference finals. The Falcons have one game in hand.
St. John’s (42-22-6 for 90 points) is still alive for first place in the Atlantic Division and the IceCaps have two games in hand. Manchester needs four points to clinch the division. After tonight, Manchester hosts Portland Saturday night and plays at Providence Sunday at 3 p.m.
Ian Clark covers pro hockey for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.