MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Monarchs have begun to build their roster for the 2017-18 season, and they’ve started by bringing back two popular defensemen and a forward. Defenders Craig Wyszomirski and Colton Saucerman along with forward Cory Ward have all re-upped with the Manchester club for the upcoming campaign.
Wyszomirski, known to fans (and the broadcast voice of the Monarchs, Ken Cail) as “The Wiz” was the first to be announced on June 6th. The left-handed defenseman has made an impact in his first 52 regular season games with the club, putting up four goals and eight assists in his rookie effort, while racking up 40 penalty minutes. During the playoff run, he scored an additional five points on two goals and three assists in 19 games with an impressive 31 penalty minutes to accompany them. The Mahwah, NJ native spent three games in 2016-17 with the AHL’s Ontario Reign, where he was +2 with no points.
July 7th saw the announcement of a second signed defenseman in Saucerman. Saucerman had spent the majority of the season in South Carolina with the Stingrays, but came to the Monarchs in March via a trade in exchange for center Derek Arnold. Saucerman (and his famous beard) played 11 regular season games with Manchester, scoring two goals, setting up for eight assists in that time, and spending 15 minutes in the penalty box. He started in all 19 playoff games for the Monarchs, where he added an additional two goals, eight assists, and 20 penalty minutes. All told, the Northeastern University alum’s ECHL totals for 2016-17 were four goals, 27 assists, and 63 PIM. Saucerman also played in five AHL games between the Hershey Bears and the Springfield Thunderbirds.
Then, after nearly two weeks of radio silence, a third signing was announced in the form of forward Cory Ward. The Las Vegas, NV native spent his entire rookie season with the Monarchs, where his 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists) were good enough to finish fifth in scoring with the team. Ward also played 17 games during the playoffs, contributing one goal and four assists. Ward is the first of the Monarchs who received qualifying offers from the team to have finalized a deal this off-season.
Meanwhile, two of those who did not receive offers have taken deals elsewhere in the past weeks.
On June 30th, Connor Hardowa inked a deal to play for the Rødovre Mighty Bulls of the Danish Metal Ligaen. The 28-year old defenseman had spent the entire 2016-17 campaign with the Monarchs after two seasons with the Utah Grizzlies. In 60 games in Manchester, Hardowa had three goals and 16 assists, finishing +3 and with 19 penalty minutes. His signing with the Mighty Bulls marks Hardowa’s return to Europe, where he had previously played for the Finnish club KooKoo in 2013-14.
Also departing on July 13th was physical winger Ashton Rome. Rome had split 2016-17 between the Monarchs and the Iserlohn Roosters of Germany’s Deutsche Eishockey Liga. Rome had spent parts of five seasons in Germany before making his return to North America with Manchester. With the ECHL club, Rome accumulated 12 goals and six assists with 59 PIM during 36 regular season games, and marked an impressive nine goals with three assists and 12 PIM in 19 playoff games. Rome signed a deal with the freshly minted Worcester Railers, making his return to the city where his pro career began with the late Worcester Sharks all the way back in 2006.
With July over half over, expect more of the players who were extended qualifying offers to reach deals before the August 1st deadline. There is little doubt that the Monarchs will be working hard to secure the services of scoring leaders Matt Leitner and Joe Diamond for the upcoming campaign, as well as those of goaltender Charles Williams (with primary starter Sam Brittain technically a ward of the Florida Panthers). Captain David Kolomatis‘s status is also currently unknown and up in the air.
Keep an eye on this space for updates on future signings, as well as interviews with Monarchs players and personalities!
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