Game 23: Elmira Jackals (6-12-4-0) vs. Manchester Monarchs (15-7-1-1)
7:00 p.m., SNHU Arena, Manchester, New Hampshire
The Jackals hit the road to New Hampshire for the first of back-to-back games against the Manchester Monarchs. It is the first of three weekend trips to SNHU Arena this season and the third of 14 matches between the clubs this season.
Manchester enters the week on a four-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 coming off a three-game trip to Florida where they went 1-2-0-0, handing the Everblades their first regulation home loss of the season. The Jackals have points in six of their last 10 games (4-4-2-0), but remain in sixth place in the North Division. After concluding this six-game road trip this weekend, the Jackals host Adirondack and Manchester next week before the Christmas break.
Jackals Pregame at 6:45 p.m. Radio: 1410 WELM; TV: WETM-2
Last time out
Andy Iles made 34 saves against his former team as the Jackals knocked off the Florida Everblades, 4-2, Dec. 10 at Germain Arena, the first regulation home loss for the Everblades in 2016-17.
After a scoreless first period with Iles and Everblades goalie Matt Skoff picking up where they left off the night before, the Jackals scored first in the second period. Casey Thrush backhanded a rebound near the crease to give the Jackals a 1-0 lead at 5:04. After the Everblades tied it at 16:18 with their Teddy Bear Toss goal, Elmira went ahead again when Vaclav Karabacek slipped a shot past Skoff with 41 seconds left in the period.
The Jackals extended their lead in the third, with Greg Betzold scoring on a rebound at 5:41 of the third to give the Jackals a 3-1 lead. Mark Bennett iced the game with an empty-net goal at 16:44 and, although the Everblades got one back late, the Jackals won, 4-2.
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.
Yesterday, 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 four consecutive wins to surge back into first place in the North Division with a 15-7-1-1 record. The Monarchs, at 32 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 the week with 91 goals, third most in the league, although their 3.79 goals per game ranks fourth. The Monarchs' leading scorer, Joe Diamond, is currently on loan to the AHL's Springfield Thunderbirds. That leaves Daniel Ciampini as the active leader with 21 points (6g, 15a) and a +11 rating. Three players are not far behind with 19 points.
In goal, Sam Brittain has appeared in 16 of Manchester's 24 games, posting an 11-3-1-0 record with a 2.54 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage. He is tied for second in the ECHL with 11 wins, but was dealt an overtime loss in his one start 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 third 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.
Steven Kaunisto, Kenton Miller and Mike Radja all had three points in the two games against Manchester, with Kaunisto recording his first ECHL multi-goal game Nov. 26. Both Jason Kasdorf, who allowed one goal on 24 shots, and Andy Illes, who allowed three goals on 36 shots, earned wins over the Monarchs.
For Manchester, Derek Arnold scored a goal in both games and has two points in the season series, tied with Cory Arnold for the team lead. In net, Sam Brittain allowed two goals on 19 shots in an overtime loss while Jonah Imoo gave up four goals on 27 shots in a regulation loss.
The Monarchs power play is going through a dry spell, with power-play goals in just two of the last six games. Over that stretch, Manchester is 3-for-20 (15.0%), although they remain second overall in the ECHL at 23.2%. The Monarchs power play tends to score in bunches. They have scored a power-play goal in 11 of their 24 games, but have scored at least two power-play goals in five of those 11 games.
The Jackals power play went 0-for-10 in the final two games of their three-game series in Florida and are 1-for-16 in the last four games. Prior to that, the Jackals were in a 4-for-8 run over three games, so they are 5-for-24 (20.8%) in the last seven games. They are 11th in the ECHL at 17.9% (12-for-67), but just 5-for-38 (13.2%) on the road.
The Monarchs penalty kill is tops in the ECHL, allowing just nine power-play goals on 91 shorthanded opportunities, a 90.1% success rate. They are 20-for-22 (90.9%) in the last six games, although one of the two goals against came against the Jackals.
Elmira's penalty kill is 27-for-30 (90.0%) over the last six games, surging to 14th in the ECHL at 83.8%, allowing 12 power-play goals in 74 shorthanded scenarios. They are 10th away from First Arena, stopping 85.4% of opposition power plays.