November 18, 2013

AHL Journal: Morris becomes Mr. 300

By Mike Miccoli

It's an achievement in and of itself, but for Manchester Monarchs' Head Coach, Mark Morris, it's one that is a bit more special the second time around.

Morris picked up his 300th career win as an AHL head coach on Wednesday when the Monarchs beat the Norfolk Admirals, 3-1. It's a unique achievement for Morris, who has spent his entire pro coaching career with Manchester, after winning 300 games as the head coach of Clarkson University.

"I'm still emotional, but at the same time, I'm a lot more savvy to realize that you can't control anything," Morris said when asked to compare the two feats. "I realized that at this age, when you admit your frailties, you can endear yourself to your players. I think that as a young coach, oftentimes, you strive for milestones just to prove you're somebody. In the end, I think it's the relationship that you build watching teams and watching individuals grow – that’s the most satisfying part."

Morris no doubt must have been pleased seeing the success of former Monarchs Slava Voynov, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli, and Linden Vey, who each played a critical role for the Los Angeles Kings' 3-2 win over the New York Islanders on Thursday night. It's a testament to Morris as a bench boss to see personal success correlate hand-in-hand with the players that he coaches. Those players are only the latest to pass through Manchester before making an impact for the Kings.

The Monarchs split their weekend series, losing 4-1 on the road against the Portland Pirates on Friday night, before beating the Norfolk Admirals for the second time in as many tries on Saturday night, 3-2.

News and Notes

  • The Portland Pirates picked up five out of six points this weekend, after playing in their first three-game stretch of the season. After a decisively dominant 4-1 win over the Monarchs on Friday night, the Pirates dropped their Saturday night game in a shootout against the Springfield Falcons, 2-1. Most impressive, however, was the way that the Pirates battled back on Sunday to beat the Providence Bruins in overtime, 4-3. After being down 3-1 halfway through the game, the Pirates tied the game to force extra hockey. Gilbert Brule notched the game-winner in overtime, wrapping up an impressive weekend where he scored in each of the three games, extending his point streak to five games.
  • Speaking of winning streaks, the Springfield Falcons and Worcester Sharks took both of their games against this weekend. The Falcons one-goal wins against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and the Portland Pirates came at the right time to help them secure their lock on the Northeast Division. Worcester bounced back to beat the St. John’s IceCaps twice this weekend, after dropping Wednesday night's contest. Even though both needed the shootout to decide a winner, it's two steps in the right direction for a Worcester team that had struggled out of the gate.
  • Hartford Wolfpack defenseman Dylan McIlrath solidified his role as a rough and tumble blueliner around the AHL this weekend after recording two fights in Saturday night’s 4-1 win over the Sound Tigers. Though McIlrath has two fewer fights than the Norfolk Admirals’ Zack Stortini, his 75 penalty minutes tie him for tops in the league. McIlrath is starting to become the new New England Fight Club captain in the AHL, after Providence Bruins enforcer Bobby Robins missed a handful of games due to a knee injury to start the season. Robins led the AHL with 35 fights in the 2012-13 regular season.

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, November 20:

Hartford Wolfpack @ Albany Devils (7 p.m.)

Friday, November 22:

Worcester Sharks @ Manchester Monarchs (7 p.m.)

Albany Devils @ Springfield Falcons (7 p.m.)

Bridgeport Sound Tigers @ Providence Bruins (7:05 p.m.)

Portland Pirates @ Norfolk Admirals (7:30 p.m.)

Saturday, November 23:

Providence Bruins @ Manchester Monarchs (7 p.m.)

Hartford Wolfpack @ Springfield Falcons (7 p.m.)

Bridgeport Sound Tigers @ Worcester Sharks (7 p.m.)

Portland Pirates @ Norfolk Admirals (7:15 p.m.)

Sunday, November 24:

St. John's IceCaps @ Bridgeport Sound Tigers (3 p.m.)

Manchester Monarchs @ Worcester Sharks (3 p.m.)

Springfield Falcons @ Providence Bruins (3:05 p.m.)

Twitter: @MikeMiccoli