The long-anticipated arrival has occured, and the results have been very promising. The Manchester Monarchs finished their extended season-beginning road trip with a dismal record of
2-8-2. The team’s new arena, the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH, was christened on November 16, 2001 with a renewing of the Monarchs-Lock Monster rivalry. Before the first game puck was dropped, the Monarchs and Kings’ banners were raised to the rafters. Then the Monarchs and the fans paid tribute to our every day local heroes, the police and fire department, who unfurled a huge American flag that covered almost the entire space between the blue lines, which the Lock Monsters and Monarchs lined, and received a long and well-deserved standing ovation. A lengthy moment of silence was held in memory of Garnet “Ace” Bailey and Mark Bavis, both of whom were scouts with the LA Kings organization, and the thousands of others who lost or gave their lives in the September 11th tragedies in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC. All 27 teams in the AHL have dedicated the 2001-02 season in their memory. Rene Rancourt serenaded the masses with a dramatic rendition of the national anthem… and then it was game time.
The Monarchs began the season in the Lock Monsters’ arena, and had lost to them twice in their 14-game journey on the road. The tables were turned, however, on that night of firsts for the Monarchs and their fans. They soundly beat the Lock Monsters, 3-1, in the home opener. The first goal ever to be scored in the VWA was by Monarchs defenseman, Joe Corvo. The team immediately left for Quebec City, to take on the Eastern Conference leaders, the Citadelles. There, they dropped a 4-2 decision to the powerhouse Cits, then rushed back home for their third game in as many days. The result was a 5-4 victory over the decimated (by call-ups and injuries) Portland Pirates, who have been winless in their last eight contests. After a few days’ rest, the Monarchs took to the road again, playing the Worcester IceCats on American Thanksgiving Day Eve. Midway through the third period, the Monarchs were ahead 2-1. Things started to unravel for the Monarchs, who emerged from the contest with a 3-2 loss in overtime.
Dane Jackson was recently named the captain of the team, but others definitely contribute to the leadership of the squad. Brad Chartrand leads by example on the ice, his work ethic unquestionable and resilience giving a much needed boost to his teammates. Joe Corvo leads the defense not only in points but by helping the younger prospects in how to be effective at both ends of the ice. Chartrand’s play was noticed by the folks in LA, as he was recalled by the Kings after the Monarchs’ 5-4 win over Portland on Sunday. Scott Thomas has worked his way up the scoring charts in Manchester. With Chartrand in LA, Thomas leads the Monarchs with 4+9=13 totals in 15 games played. Eric Healey has also done well for himself; he currently leads the AHL in shooting percentage (.348) with 8 goals on 23 shots taken in 13 games played.
Upcoming games (all games listed in Eastern time):
Friday, November 23, 2001: Norfolk @ Manchester, 7:35pm
Saturday, November 24, 2001: Manchester @ Saint John, 6:00pm
Wednesday, November 28, 2001: St. John’s @ Manchester, 7:05pm
Friday, November 30, 2001: Manchester @ Quebec, 7:30pm
Saturday, December 1, 2001: Providence @ Manchester, 7:35pm
Sunday, December 2, 2001: Worcester @ Manchester, 4:05pm
Wednesday, December 5, 2001: Manchester @ Saint John, 6:30pm
Friday, December 7, 2001: Worcester @ Manchester, 7:35pm
Saturday, December 8, 2001: Manchester @ Lowell, 7:00pm
Sunday, December 9, 2001: Quebec @ Manchester, 4:05pm