Monarchs visit Portland tonight
With 10 games remaining in the regular season, the Manchester Monarchs enter the weekend in ninth place of the Eastern Conference - two points shy of the eighth-seeded team and the final playoff spot.
Like most teams, the Monarchs have dealt with their share of adversity and injuries, but the 2012-13 season has thrown the American Hockey League an added wrinkle. The NHL lockout stretched into January, and once the labor dispute was resolved, rosters were shuffled and some teams began rebuilding at their core.
"I think this year it's been a weird year," said Monarchs center Linden Vey, who leads the Monarchs with 59 points. "With the lockout and so many players going up and down, we've had a stretch here with bad injuries and we are just starting to get healthy which is a good thing going into the last 10 games of the regular season."
The Monarchs (31-28-3-4) have won two of three, creeping toward their 11th playoff appearance in 12 seasons. They play at division foe Portland (35-25-3-2) tonight at 7 in their only game of the weekend.
Vey, in his second season, is a big reason the Monarchs have maintained consistency. Vey spent much of the season with left wing Tanner Pearson and right wing Tyler Toffoli. When Pearson was sidelined with an upper body injury earlier this month, the Vey line never skipped a beat after adding Andy Andreoff to the mix.
"The coaches have given me a lot more opportunity this year because of the injuries and guys going up to L.A.," Vey, of Wakaw, Sask., said. "For me, I know my job is just to contribute offensively and we have been doing that for the most part. My linemates and I, Andy and Pearson, have got a lot of chemistry going and we just have to keep things going the last 10 games here."
Vey, a second-year pro, recently notched his 100th professional point, and he currently ranks third in the AHL with 41 assists.