MANCHESTER, NH - A fresh palette. The Manchester Monarchs are now one day away until the doors to Monarchs Country open up for the eleventh season in a row. What can we expect to see in the upcoming season is simply unknown. With a roster full of returning players, we should definitely see some veteran talent. But with players like Andy Anderoff and other rising stars, this season is guaranteed to satisfy.
By watching the Monarchs play the Portland Pirates in an exhibition game in Portland on Sunday, you can tell that Monarchs lack under the scoring category. In the 2-0 loss, I could easily tell the Monarchs need to get more chemistry on their lines. The starting line (consisting of Marc-Andre Cliché, Richard Clune, Justin Johnson, Shaun Heshka, David Kolomatis, and goalie Martin Jones) has a lot of chemistry! It is definitely the Monarchs number-one line.
So, in the offense category, we need to stop moving the puck so much and start setting up scoring opportunities. The Monarchs like to pass a lot, so they can occasionally come up with some “accidental opportunities” here and there, but they definitely need to learn how to light the lamp.
Defensively, the Monarchs are pretty strong. They can prevent rushes to the net, but they need to stay stronger on the corners. Most of the offensive opportunities Portland had were from entering through the corners. The Monarchs can effectively stop any rushes that try to sneak in through the middle lane. They just need to work on keeping the corners more secure.
As for goaltending, the Monarchs are in great shape. Martin Jones played a solid game in his appearance against Portland. Although he gave up two goals, he made many great saves and proved he has what it takes to lead the Monarchs to another successful season. But that’s not all the Monarchs have for goalies. There’s also Jean-Francois Berube. Berube, 20, hasn’t had his time to shine, but I have a feeling that we will see him between the pipes real soon. They also have Jeff Zatkoff, who is traveling with Monarchs parent club the Los Angeles Kings. At this point in time, he is on the Kings roster but I have a feeling he is only up there to give their star goalies a rest period until Kings Opening night on Friday.
The Monarchs coaching staff is also more than ready for the season. Head coach Mark Morris, who enters in his 6th season as bench boss said “It’s been a long three weeks (in training camp) and I’m sure these guys are anxious to compete for jobs and get settled so that they can get on with the season.”
As for veteran players like John Zeiler, Bud Holloway, Gabe Gauthier, and Oscar Moller; they are all overseas playing for various teams.
Monarchs forward Richard Clune shared his thoughts on the guys leaving. “I saw Bud and we had some laughs,” said Clune. “Whether I’m in Manchester or LA next season, it would have been fun to just be around him. He’s a really good guy.
As for Kings GM Dean Lombardi he definitely has some thoughts running through his head about these guys leaving.
“That’s… That’s really frustrating,” said Lombardi.
Another name that will arise through Monarch’s Country as the season gets rolling is twenty-year-old Linden Vey. Vey, the Saskatchewan native was drafted by the Medicine Hat of the WHL in the 2006-’07 season. He was then drafted by the Kings in the 2009 draft in the 4th round. He was the 96th draft pick overall.
“I’ve always been an offense guy,” Vey said. “. I have to come in and do what I’ve done the last couple of years in the WHL.”
Overall, Monarchs fans have a lot to look forward to this season. With such a young team I predict we will see a lot of progress made this season. I think if the Monarchs can pinpoint they’re weaknesses and improve, their odds of winning the Calder Cup are high.