The Fresno Monsters won their first 12 games of the Western States Hockey League season and are one of only three teams still unbeaten in league play.
Head coach Bryce Dale said, in late October, that the early success is linked to team chemistry.
“The camaraderie we have in the locker room is excellent,” Dale said. “The guys are out there playing for each other and they have embraced our philosophies. They have also worked very hard.”
Captain Nick McKee has played a key role early in the success of the Monsters’ offense, scoring 14 goals and 26 points in 12 games.
Assistant captain Justin Plate has struck for eight goals and 21 points in 12 games to help pace an offense that has punched in 73 goals.
“We have been successful offensively because we play very fast and that style creates scoring opportunities,” Dale said. “A lot of our guys want to go on and play college hockey, and to do that, you have to be able to play fast. The players push themselves hard on the ice.”
From a defensive standpoint, the Monsters were third in lowest goals against with 31. Brenden Manquen allowed only 12 goals and racked up 76 saves during the unbeaten stretch. Justin Hubert and Corey Foster saw time in goal as well and gave up a combined 19 goals.
“Our goaltending has been one of our strengths,” Dale said. “But the key to our success in goal has been how well our defense has played. We believe our defense, from top to bottom, is the best in the league.”
The Monsters have been one of the better teams in the league since joining the WSHL and they are hoping to contend for a title again this season.
Dale said he expects his team to stay on the right track as it heads deeper into November.
“We have to keep working hard and play as hard as possible,” Dale said. “We still have improvements we need to make, but as long as we play our best every night, we are going to be fine.”