Four-Game Trip Starts in San Antonio

With the Monsters on a three-game losing streak early in November, they kicked off a season-long five-game homestand with a pair of games against tonight’s opponent - the San Antonio Rampage - and managed to sweep the two games by a combined score of 9-3. Since then, the Rampage has made several improvements, and currently sits in the seventh spot in the Western Conference; seven points up on the Monsters, who trail eighth-place Rochester by five points as they begin a stretch of two games in Texas, and four consecutive road games in all.

The Monsters are coming off a 3-1 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs on the Saturday before the All-Star Break; a game in which Gerald Coleman rebounded from a rocky start the previous Thursday against Toronto and continued what seems to be a mastery of the Bulldogs. With Cedrick Desjardins and Trevor Cann still on the shelf for the time being, Coleman and James Reid remain the Monsters goaltending tandem. Coleman has alternated wins and losses over his five starts as a Monster to date, and currently carries a record of 3-2-0.

In a major roster move, forward Mike Carman moves over to the Hershey Bears in the Washington Capitals organization, and veteran defenseman Danny Richmond - a two-way defenseman with 49 games of NHL experience - is slated to become a part of the Monsters scheme and figures to carry a heavy load when he makes his arrival. Carman, the Monsters all-time shorthanded goals leader with seven, had skated in just four of the Monsters last eight games, and only one of the last three games. Richmond has the tools to be an immediate asset; a defenseman with the ability to chew up a lot of minutes for coach David Quinn. And to prove the smallness of the hockey world once again, Richmond comes with some familiarity to certain Monsters players. Not only has he seen AHL action every season since 2004-05, but he teamed with defenseman Mike Brennan last season as a member of the Toronto Marlies, and was also a teammate of Gerald Coleman during his junior days with the 2003-04 London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League.

In other roster moves, rookie forward Ben Wilson was loaned to the Allen Americans of the Central Hockey League earlier this week; Wilson hadn’t seen game action for the Monsters since New Year’s Eve in Hamilton. Forward Adrian Foster, who battled injuries over the course of the season, was released from his contract.

The Monsters power play will be a key to success tonight against San Antonio, who brings to the table a penalty kill unit that ranks 26th in the 30-team AHL. Prior to coming up empty on three chances with the man-advantage in Saturday’s 3-1 win at home over Hamilton, the Monsters had scored five power play goals in 24 power play opportunities. The power play has come to life as of late, and with the addition of a new defenseman who has the ability to take some reps on the power play, and Greg Mauldin back getting back in the mix, the power play has the ingredients to continue to build momentum.

Mauldin is the player to watch tonight for the Monsters. He returned Saturday after missing 13 straight contests from December 29th to January 26th. During his absence, the Monsters compiled a record of 5-7-1-0. Mauldin has the ability to score a big goal, he is fundamentally sound and plays with great speed. He also brings a veteran calmness to the ice, and remains one of the Monsters go-to offensive players.

San Antonio has had some personnel moves that have contributed to their success, but perhaps none more important than the addition of veteran goalie Dov Grumet-Morris, a Harvard alum who boasts a 13-6-0 record, two shutouts, a 2.05 goals against average and a .930 save percentage in 20 games for San Antonio. Without Grumet-Morris figuring into the goaltending decision, the Rampage is just 11-13-2. Jon Matsumoto, who the Monsters have seen this season when he was a key member of the Charlotte Checkers offensive attack, came over to the Florida Panthers organization in a trade and has been anchoring the offense for San Antonio. Overall this season, Matsumoto has 41 points in 47 games.

The Monsters are continuing their climb back to the .500 mark, and the trek begins tonight in San Antonio at 8:00 PM Eastern. All the action can be heard live on AM 1220 WHKW.

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