By Greg Rosa || AHL On The Beat Archive
The 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs are right around the corner and the Manchester Monarchs are well aware of where they sit in the standings – on the outside looking in. It is not a typical viewing point for the Monarchs who have made the playoffs in 11-of-12 seasons as a franchise. However, much like the last season, they have come together at the right time to start piling up victories.
Take for instance the Monarchs most recent six-game road trip. The Monarchs dropped the first game before winning four of the last five games and pushed the other game into overtime. Manchester followed a successful road trip up with a 3-2 overtime victory at home against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Wednesday night.
“It’s going well right now; everyone is contributing and it’s been good,” said Monarchs right Brandon Kozun who reached the 20-goal plateau for the third consecutive season while on the road trip. “We are obviously on a little bit of a run and it’s important that we have the attitude of do or die right now. Obviously, it’s kind of crunch time. We are coming down to the wire and there are a lot of teams in front of us. It’s pretty tight; we have to make sure every game is a must win.”
Earning points in their last six games (5-0-1-0) is even more impressive when you consider the vast number of injuries the Monarchs have had to deal with recently.
“We have had a lot of injuries but guys have come up and stepped up and filled those roles,” said Kozun. “When everyone is playing together, sometimes it’s maybe not your strongest line-up but it works. I think that has showed over the years. Sometimes we have played our best hockey when we have had guys down and are facing a little adversity and you deal with it. It shows the character on the team to be able to play through it and it’s also a credit to the guys that have come in and played well and have stepped up for us.”
There has been no panic in the Monarchs dressing room as the injuries mounted. If anything, the club seems more determined than ever.
“We definitely look forward to getting some bodies back but we’ve done a really good job playing as a team and playing a full 60 minutes,” said Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones who has backstopped the Monarchs in 12 consecutive games. “When we do that, it doesn’t matter who’s in the line-up. We are going to have a good chance to win.”
Manchester has a chance to make up some ground this weekend with a game against their Atlantic Division rival, the Portland Pirates, and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins who are only a few points ahead the Monarchs in the Eastern Conference standings.
“It’s a fun time of year to play being in the playoff hunt,” said Jones, a 2011 AHL All-Star. “We just have to make sure to continue doing all the little things, work hard and get some wins down the stretch here.”
The Monarchs have started their playoff push. The only question now is how far can they take it?
“Every game is important right now and you have to make sure we keep building and building,” reasoned Kozun. “Hopefully we can sneak in there. The good thing is if we make the playoffs, that means we’re on a little bit of a run and who knows what can happen then.”