Oh man, what a Friday night! The Manchester Monarchs kicked off their 2011-2012 campaign in grand fashion, skating and shooting to a commanding 5-2 victory over division rival, the Springfield Falcons. To call the game a spectacle would be an understatement; clearly their 2-1 preseason loss against the Portland Pirates was a thing of the past. The team looked really good; even better then I expected. Nearly half of their skaters recorded at least a point, Martin Jones was solid in net, and Captain Mark-Andre Cliche even got himself a hat trick.

As I mentioned in Monarchs Review and Look Ahead, the team lost several of its best guys in the off-season. Clearly the team’s strong nucleus remained intact though. Everyone looked to be gelling really well, and concerns of certain players’ disdain toward being assigned to Manchester (like Andrei Loktionov) were clearly overstated. If he performs that well with a chip on his shoulder, I couldn’t imagine what he’d do without it. Maybe score an “Ovechtrick?”

Today’s a new day and this evening the Monarchs play the second of their opening weekend pair; a duel with the St. John’s IceCaps. Although they’re new to the league, the IceCaps actually used to be the Manitoba Moose, a western conference team the Monarchs typically don’t play. I’ll tell you this much, if the Monarchs play like they did last night, all signs point to victory number two going in the books. The IceCaps did win their season opener too last night against the Baby B’s (Providence Bruins) 4-1, but there’s something special about the 2011-2012 roster.

Naturally, anything less than victory tonight would be disappointing, but this new crew has already shattered my expectations. Let’s hope that the same can be said for tonight’s game!