If the Manchester Monarchs want to extend their ECHL season, they will have to do so at their home-away-from-home rink on Friday night.
Manchester trails the Newfoundland Growlers, 3-1, in their best-of-seven ECHL North Division Finals series entering Friday night’s game at The Rinks at Exeter. The puck drops at 7 and first-come, first-served general admission tickets will be $5 at the door.
The Monarchs’ usual home venue, SNHU Arena, is unavailable due to a scheduling conflict, as it is hosting Monster Jam this weekend.
Manchester coach Doug Christiansen said the team considered using Saint Anselm College’s Sullivan Arena for the game but the school has removed the ice for graduation. Christiansen noted the Monarchs played a preseason game at The Rinks at Exeter Oct. 7 so some of his players are familiar with the venue.
“The Rinks has a good atmosphere,” Christiansen said. “We’re hoping fans come over and have new fans coming over from Exeter ... We wanted to make sure, as opposed to playing somewhere else — Worcester, Maine or somewhere else in our division — we wanted somewhere that’s ours.”
Like SNHU Arena, The Rinks at Exeter’s sheet is an NHL-standard 200 by 85 feet. Monarchs Public Relations Coordinator Parker Wheeler estimated the rink can hold about 1,000 people between available seating and standing-room-only space.
“We have the opportunity to have our fans be impactful and have them have something different, too,” Christiansen said.
Each of the previous four games in the series has been decided by one or two goals. Newfoundland has won the past three games.
To force a Game 6, which would be played Monday night in Newfoundland, the Monarchs’ team discipline has to be at its best and they have to bury their chances, Christiansen said.
The Growlers have scored all six power-play goals in the series but Manchester, Christiansen said, has been the better team during 5-on-5 play. In the past two games, both of which were played in Manchester, the Monarchs outshot Newfoundland a combined 43-10 in the third period but scored only three goals in the frame. “It might be a little different than our own rink but at the end of the day, it’s our own fans,” Christiansen said. “We want to make it as home as possible, get the win and get back to Newfoundland.”