Into the Shark tank and then on to uncharted waters for the Manchester Monarchs.
The Atlantic Division-leading Monarchs (16-5-5, 37 points) will visit division rival Worcester (10-8-2, 22) tonight at 7:30 before heading to Adirondack to play the Phantoms (11-10-2) for the first time this season. The weekend closes with a home game against Bridgeport (9-11-4) Sunday at 3 p.m. at Verizon Wireless Arena.
The Monarchs will be out for revenge in two of the games. Last Sunday, the Sharks escaped town with a 2-1 shootout win and Manchester fell 3-2 at Bridgeport two weeks ago.
“We’re familiar with two of those teams. Any time you go on the road it’s an opportunity to see what you’re made out of,” Monarchs head coach Mark Morris said. “You’re going into a tough building in Worcester and a tough building in Adirondack (Glens Falls, N.Y.) and hopefully we can repay the favor to Bridgeport because we gave them three soft goals down there.”
Worcester is one of the hottest teams going, with a record of 7-1-2 over the past 10 games. The Sharks, as Manchester found out on Sunday, are money when it comes to the shootout. Five of those wins in the past 10 games were shootout wins.
But Morris and the Monarchs were unhappy it even got to a shootout last weekend. Manchester had nearly four minutes of power-play time in the overtime session but came up short. The struggles of the power play have been a focus for the team, which appears to have trouble creating traffic in front for rebound chances.
“When you’ve got skill guys, a lot of time they like to play on the perimeter. You’ve got to get your nose dirty,” Morris said. “If you want to score goals, you’ve got to put pucks and bodies to the net.”
Moving to Adirondack, the Phantoms have won two in a row after a 2-6-0 stretch. As for the Sound Tigers, former Monarchs assistant Scott Pellerin has dealt with an inconsistent squad all season, but Bridgeport has gone 5-3-2 over the past 10 games.
With the third weekend in a row of three-games-in-three-days, Morris will once again have a decision to make regarding the goaltending duties. Rookie J.F. Berube continues to play well with Martin Jones called up to Los Angeles, but fatigue could become an issue.
So far, Morris said the play of Berube has made it so backup Aaron Dell has yet to make his AHL debut. Morris also liked the way Berube responded last Saturday in a 4-3 win against Portland.
“There really wasn’t a decision. I was hoping that we could (play Dell), but at the same time, J.F. has played pretty well for us,” Morris said. “I challenged him (Saturday) night because I didn’t think he played real well early on in the game and he stood tall and got us the win.”