Monarchs will need a finishing kick
MANCHESTER - The Manchester Monarchs will try to finish the season the same way they started it.
If they can, they may well sneak into the American Hockey League playoffs.
The Monarchs won five of their first six games of the season.
The regular game season is down to a half a dozen games now: three in three days at home this weekend and another three-in-three on the road next weekend.
The Monarchs seek to get the six-pack off on the right foot at home against the Connecticut Whale tonight at 7 at Verizon Wireless Arena. They play Hershey tomorrow night and the Worcester Sharks are in on Sunday afternoon at 3 for the last home game of the regular season and Fan Appreciation Day.
"Home ice is an advantage for everyone in our league and we have to take full advantage of that," said rookie forward Hunter Bishop. "We have great fans and they jump on board when we play well. We need to use that in our favor."
The Monarchs are in a crowd chasing the final couple of playoff spots.
They enter the weekend with 71 points, four behind Hershey and Norfolk, who are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Connecticut has 78 points, three more than Hershey and Norfolk.
To complicate matters for the Monarchs, Albany and Bridgeport also have 71 points and Worcester is two points further back.
The Monarchs will try to build off their last game, a 4-3 overtime win at Worcester on Sunday. They failed to hold a 3-1 lead going into the third period and gave up a goal with 17 seconds left to tie it, but rebounded in OT for the two points.
Defenseman David Kolomaitis scored the game-winning goal 1:50 into overtime. He also had two assists in the game. Bishop had one of the assists on the winner.
The first challenge of the weekend is finding a way to stop Connecticut. Manchester beat the Whale, 9-2, the first time the teams met this season on Dec. 8 at the Verizon.
The Whale have won the four games since.
The two games in the final six against Hershey, one of the teams the Monarchs is chasing, are huge. The teams have split their two games so far.
The Monarchs have won six of their 11 games against Worcester, including the last four. Worcester has three regulation wins in the series, an overtime win and a shootout win.
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Tyler Toffoli, who has been up with the Los Angeles Kings since mid-March, was named to the AHL All-Rookie team this week. Toffoli still has the most goals on the team and is third in points. He has 28 goals and 20 assists for 48 points in 55 games with the Monarchs. He has two goals and three assists in eight games with the Kings. . . . The Monarchs added a pair of players to the roster in the past week. Scott Sabourin, 20, is the most recent. A 6-foot-3 and 203-pound forward, he had 20 goals and 30 assists to go with 142 minutes in penalties in 65 games with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League this season. Derek Forbort, a 6-foot-5 and 207-pound defenseman, was put on the roster last weekend. The Kings' first-round pick in 2010, Forbort has played for the University of North Dakota the past three seasons.