The Manchester Monarchs ended their 14-season stay in the American Hockey League by delivering their first Calder Cup to their fans, defeating the Utica Comets 2-1 in Game 5 Saturday night at Utica Memorial Auditorium.
This was the final game for AHL hockey in Manchester, NH because the Los Angeles Kings – their parent club – are relocating their top affiliate to Ontario, Calif. next season where they will be known as the Ontario Reign. This is essentially a swap of ECHL and AHL teams as the Reign of the ECHL will replace missed hockey in Manchester and take over the Monarchs’ name.
After Hershey won their league-high 11th Calder Cup in 2010, the last five winners (Binghanton, Norfolk, Grand Rapids, and Texas) have all been first time winners.
Manchester was the best team in the league in the regular season, topping the league with 109 points. They were one of four teams to reach the 100-point plateau during the regular season. After being taken to five games in the first round of the playoffs against Portland where they won Game 5 with a 5-3 score, they managed to lose only two more games in the playoffs.
They went 9-0 at home in the playoffs, including three overtime wins. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton took them to triple overtime in Game 1 of the second round before falling 4-3 and Utica fell in overtime in the first two games of the Calder Cup Final.
The playoff MVP was Jordan Weal, who tied teammate Michael Mersch for the lead in points with 22, scored 10 goals to go along with 12 assists and a plus-12 rating in 19 games. Only 23 years old, Weal was a third-round pick by the Kings in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Weal was third in points in the AHL during regular season, going 20-49–69 in 73 games, behind teammate Brian O’Neill and Andy Miele of the Grand Rapids Griffins.
In Game 5, Adrian Kempe opened the scoring with his eighth goal of the playoffs at 10:02 of the opening period. Vincent LoVerde scored on the power play 3:07 later to give the Monarchs a 2-0 lead. The lead eventually stood up to win the game despite Cal O’Reilly ruining a shutout for Patrik Bartosak with 15 seconds left.
Batrosak was making his second career playoff start in the cup-clincher, coming in for an injured Jean-Francois Berube in Game 3.