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AHL grads lead Lightning to Stanley Cup

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The Tampa Bay Lightning captured the Stanley Cup on Monday night with a 2-0 victory over the Dallas Stars to win the NHL’s championship series, four games to two.

Brayden Point and Blake Coleman scored for the Lightning in Game 6, and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 22 shots to record his first career playoff shutout.

Tampa Bay’s Game 6 lineup included 11 players who previously skated for the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch, their AHL affiliate since 2012-13.

The Lightning’s Jon Cooper became the eighth head coach ever to win both the Stanley Cup and the Calder Cup, joining an exclusive group that also includes Fred Shero, Al MacNeil, Mike Keenan, John Tortorella, Bob Hartley, Peter Laviolette and Barry Trotz.

Cooper spent nearly three years coaching the Lightning’s AHL affiliate before his promotion to Tampa Bay in 2013. He won the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach in 2011-12, the year he led the Norfolk Admirals to a Calder Cup championship with a team that included Tyler JohnsonAlex Killorn and Ondrej Palat. Those players are the 127th, 128th and 129th players ever to win both the Calder Cup and Stanley Cup.

Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois reached three Calder Cup Finals and won the 2012 title while serving as GM of Tampa Bay’s AHL operations. Assistant coach Todd Richards adds a Stanley Cup to the Calder Cups he won as a player (1991) and as an assistant coach (2004), and Jeff Halpern and Derek Lalonde are graduates of AHL benches as well.

Other AHL alumni who lifted the Stanley Cup include NHL playoff scoring leader Nikita KucherovYanni Gourde, Anthony Cirelli, Barclay Goodrow, Braydon Coburn, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, Patrick Maroon, Carter Verhaeghe, Luke Schenn, Jan Rutta, Mitchell Stephens, Curtis McElhinney and Alexander Volkov, who made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in Game 6 on Monday.

More than 88 percent of all players in the National Hockey League are graduates of the American Hockey League, with over 350 players skating in both leagues during the 2019-20 season alone.