By: Jeff Dahlia
Spring 2004 was a hopeful time for Phoenix Coyotes right wing prospect Lance Monych. Ecstatic at signing a three-year contract with the Coyotes in June, he found himself heading into the summer wanting to make all the right impressions with management.
He attended the 2nd Annual Pacific Division Rookie Tournament in Anaheim, CA and worked hard to distinguish himself. He was one of the key players that helped guide the Coyotes to a third place finish in the tournament.
Monych would take that momentum into the Coyotes AHL camp and try to earn a roster spot with their then affiliate, the Utah Grizzlies. He didn't have a bad camp, but he didn't have a spectacular one either.
His next stop was the Idaho Steelheads in the ECHL. Rather than spend a season in the ECHL, the Coyotes decided to return Monych to his junior team, the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL.
"I'll be honest and say that it was kind of disappointing at the start because I wanted to make the jump to the pros," Monych recalled about the assignment. "I settled back in Brandon, which was a great place to go to."
With all that behind him, Monych was ready to go to work and work hard. It took him a couple of games to get back into the mix of things, as he re-joined with a very talented Brandon squad. He would go on to finish the regular season with an increase his point production for third straight year.
As the team's third leading scorer and top goal scorer during the 2005 WHL playoffs, he also helped guide the Wheat Kings all the way to the finals. Although it was a great series for the Monych and the team, they ended up falling to the Kelowna Rockets.
"We had a good year and made it to the WHL finals," stated Monych. " I don't know what is was, but I got on a good roll in the post season. I got the bounces, and the pucks were going in for me. It was a great environment to be in, and I was happy that I could contribute as much as I did.
"Like every year, you have to improve," he explained. "Last season was very important for me. Not only did it give me a good opportunity to look at where I was at, it also let me put things in perspective so I could seek out the things that would lead me the next level. I started to focus on the things that will help me develop into a well-rounded player, and it helped tremendously."
After a year of scoring and searching, Monych has returned to Coyotes camp this fall ready to fulfill those impressions he set out to deliver last year.
"I want to do the best I can and grow with the organization no matter what the scenario is," he said. "I know it is all out of my hands, but on the other end, I know I have to give my best all the time."
Playing on the energy line with for the Coyotes at the 2005 Pacific Division Tournament, Monych has put together two quality games. And although he has been held off the score sheet, it was the unselfish play like his, which helped the Coyotes open the tournament with a solid win. He knows his chances will come and he is taking it all in stride.
"I just want to do what I do best and that is playing hockey," he said about his overall approach. "I want to focus on what I can take care of from my end and play the best possible hockey I know how to play.
"We have a great group of guys here at the tournament, and it has shown, given the fact we haven't had that much time together. We're looking forward to tonight and the rest of the week."
And when the tournament comes to a close, Monych will be gearing up to make to the permanent jump to the pros.