MONARCHS EXIT AHL AS CHAMPIONS
UTICA, NY – The Manchester Monarchs were the AHL’s best team all season long and finally reached the pinnacle of success tonight in winning the Calder Cup over the Utica Comets in five games.
Too fast, too tough, too good. These could be words used to describe the Monarchs in the regular season and post season as divisional foes St. John’s, Portland, Worcester and Providence all learned in the regular season and Portland, Wilkes-Barre / Scranton, Hartford and Utica learned in the postseason.
Manchester will soon come home to a celebration for their fans and when the confetti and noisemakers are cleaned up, the team will re-locate about 3,000 miles West and set up operations in Ontario, California with four other AHL teams making the journey out to the Golden State.
For Manchester, a 14 year run in the AHL concludes with a championship. A 2-1 win over Utica in five games.
All of the scoring was done in the first period.
Zach O’Brien created a turnover and Nick Shore won a puck battle in the Utica zone and dished to Adrian Kempe who scored at 10:02 to put the Monarchs up 1-0. It was Kempe’s fourth goal in three games this series and the sixth consecutive time on the road where he has scored.
Manchester scored on a power play 3:07 later when Vincent LoVerde scored on a one timer to make it 2-0.
Manchester starting goaltender Patrik Bartosak turned away 31 shots, with the only blemish coming with 14.8 seconds left to play in regulation by Cal O’Reilly with Utica’s starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom pulled for the extra attacker.
Undeterred, the Utica Memorial Auditorium was filled to capacity again, as 3,835 fans packed the Aud in the hopes of cheering their Comets to a win.
Jordan Weal won the Jack Butterfield trophy as MVP of the playoffs with a league best 22 points (10-12-22) along with a +12 in 19 playoff games.
So ends another season of AHL hockey. The 80th season will be here before we know it and the face of the league completely changed with five California teams and a total of eleven affiliation changes or relocation.
Is it October yet?
Notes via MonarchsHockey.com:
• Michael Mersch (13 goals, 9 assists) and Jordan Weal (10 goals, 12 assists) tied for the league lead in playoff points. No Manchester player had ever led the Calder Cup Playoffs in points.
• Brian O’Neill (10 goals, 10 assists) finished the playoffs third in the league in points.
• Manchester improved to 15-0 when scoring first in the playoffs.
• Nick Shore (assist) tallied at least one point for the third straight game. He finished the finals with a team-leading seven points (goal, 6 assists).
• Adrian Kempe extended his streak to six straight road games with a goal.