Game 24: Elmira Jackals (6-13-4-0) vs. Manchester Monarchs (16-7-1-1)
6:00 p.m., SNHU Arena, Manchester, New Hampshire
The Jackals wrap up their season-high six-game road trip with the second of back-to-back games against against the Manchester Monarchs. It concludes the first of three weekend trips to SNHU Arena this season and is the fourth of 14 matches between the clubs this season.
Manchester enters tonight on a five-game winning streak, springing back into first place in the North Division ahead of the Adirondack Thunder. They have swept consecutive weekend series at home against the Kalamazoo Wings and Norfolk Admirals and this weekend concludes a six-game homestand.
The Jackals are wrapping up their six-game road trip, which included three games in Florida last week against the Everblades. The Jackals are 1-3-1-0 so far on the trip, buy have points in six of their last 10 games (4-4-2-0). After concluding this six-game road trip this weekend, the Jackals host Adirondack and Manchester next week before the Christmas break.
Jackals Pregame at 5:45 p.m. Radio: 1410 WELM; TV: WETM-2
Last time out
The Manchester Monarchs scored the final five goals, including three in the third period, to get past the Jackals, 5-1, last night at SNHU Arena.
The Jackals opened the scoring 7:08 into the first period when J.P. LaFontaine swept in a rebound for a 1-0 lead. Cole Martin started the play and went 1-on-1 into the offensive zone. His shot was stopped, but LaFontaine crashed the net and found a loose puck in the crease for his first goal with the Jackals. The Monarchs would tie the game late in the first to begin their five-goal run. Rihard Bukarts fired home a rebound for a power-play goal and a 1-1 tie with 1:42 to go in the first.
Manchester got what would hold up as the game-winning goal in the final two minutes of the second period, as Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman split the Jackals defense and scored into the top corner for a 2-1 Monarchs lead. The home team would score three more in the third period to beat the Jackals, 5-1.
The Jackals roster underwent two changes this week leading up to tonight's match with the Monarchs. First, forward Vaclav Karabacek was recalled by the AHL's Rochester Americans on Wednesday. The rookie forward, who was named Sher-Wood Hockey ECHL Player of the Week for the week of Nov. 28-Dec. 4, had 11 points (5g, 6a) in just nine games with the Jackals, ranking third overall on the team.
Thursday, goalie Jason Kasdorf was recalled by the Americans after he appeared in four games with Elmira, going 2-2-0 and picking up his first professional win Nov. 27 vs. Manchester. The Jackals have added emergency backup goaltender Nick Niedert for this weekend's set with the Monarchs.
Scouting the Monarchs
The Monarchs have rebounded from a four-game losing streak, which included two losses to the Jackals, with five consecutive wins to surge back into first place in the North Division with a 16-7-1-1 record. The Monarchs, at 34 points, are a point ahead of the Thunder for the top spot in the division and trail Florida by a point for first in the Eastern Conference, although both teams have played fewer games than Manchester.
Manchester enters tonight with 96 goals, third most in the league, although their 3.84 goals per game ranks fourth. Daniel Ciampini as the team leader with 23 points (7g, 16a) and a +12 rating. Daniel Doremus and Quentin Shore are the two other active players with at least 20 points for the high-scoring Monarchs..
In goal, Sam Brittain has appeared in 17 of Manchester's 25 games, posting an 12-3-1-0 record with a 2.44 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. He is tied for second in the ECHL with 12 wins, but he is 1-0-1-0 against the Jackals this season. Jonah Imoo has only appeared in two games and he is 1-1-0-0, including a loss to Elmira.
Tonight is the fourth of 14 matches between the Jackals and Monarchs this season, the most the Jackals face any opponent in 2016-17. The Jackals won the first two meetings Nov. 26-27 at First Arena, winning by scores of 5-3 and 2-1 (OT) for a weekend sweep of their North Division rival. The Monarchs responded with a 5-1 win last night at SNHU Arena
Steven Kaunisto, Kenton Miller and Mike Radja all have three points in three games against Manchester, with Kaunisto recording his first ECHL multi-goal game Nov. 26. Andy Illes, has started two of the three games against Manchester, going 1-1-0-0.
For Manchester, Derek Arnold has a point in all three games against Elmira and he's tied for the team lead with three points (2g, 1a) in the series. Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman is the other Monarch with multiple goals against the Jackals this season. In net, Sam Brittain has allowed three goals on 46 shots in two games while Jonah Imoo gave up four goals on 27 shots in a regulation loss.
The Monarchs power play connected on two of the six power plays last night, but dropped to third overall in the ECHL at 23.9%. The Monarchs power play tends to score in bunches. They have scored a power-play goal in 12 of their 25 games, but have scored at least two power-play goals in six of those 12 games.
The Jackals power play went 0-for-13 in the last three games and are 1-for-19 in the last five games. Prior to that, the Jackals were in a 4-for-8 run over three games. They are 16th in the ECHL at 17.1% (12-for-70), but just 5-for-41 (12.2%) on the road.
The Monarchs penalty kill is tops in the ECHL, allowing just nine power-play goals on 94 shorthanded opportunities, a 90.4% success rate. They are 23-for-25 (92.0%) in the last seven games, although one of the two goals against came against the Jackals.
After last night, Elmira's penalty kill is 31-for-36 (86.1%) over the last seven games, moving to 17th in the ECHL at 82.5%, allowing 14 power-play goals in 80 shorthanded scenarios. They are 13th away from First Arena, stopping 83.0% of opposition power plays.