At last, Monarchs rule the AHL

UTICA, N.Y. ( … The Manchester Monarchs ended their 14-year tenure in the American Hockey League on the highest of notes, capturing their first Calder Cup championship on Saturday night with a 2-1 win over the Utica Comets.

The Monarchs took the series, four games to one, to complete a memorable final season in Manchester. The Los Angeles Kings’ top affiliate will play in Ontario, Calif., beginning in the fall.

The Monarchs won the Cup after also finishing first overall during the regular season. Under head coach Mike Stothers, Manchester went 50-17-6-3 (109 points) in 2014-15 and eliminated the Portland Pirates (3-2), the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (4-1) and the Hartford Wolf Pack (4-0) before defeating Utica in the Finals.

Jordan Weal, a Second Team AHL All-Star during the regular season, captured the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the MVP in the Calder Cup Playoffs after totaling 10 goals and 12 assists for a league-best 22 points, along with a plus-12 rating, in 19 playoff games. The 23-year old Weal was a third-round selection by Los Angeles in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

In Game 5, Adrian Kempe and Vincent LoVerde scored goals 3:07 apart midway through the first period to grab a 2-0 lead, and Patrik Bartosak and the Monarchs defense made the lead stand up the rest of the way.

Bartosak, who made his first career playoff start in Game 4, finished with 31 saves on the night, allowing only a single goal to Cal O’Reilly with 14.8 seconds left in regulation.

The game was played before another capacity crowd at the Utica Memorial Auditorium (3,835), the 13th sellout of the playoffs and 40th overall this season for the Comets.

Manchester’s victory brings an end to the AHL’s 79th season. In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and this season marked the 14th consecutive year in which more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America.

2015 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-7)
E1-Manchester Monarchs vs. W1-Utica Comets
Game 1 – Sat., June 6 – MANCHESTER 3, Utica 2 (OT) | Recap/highlights
Game 2 – Sun., June 7 – MANCHESTER 2, Utica 1 (OT) | Recap/highlights
Game 3 – Wed., June 10 – UTICA 3, Manchester 2 | Recap/highlights
Game 4 – Fri., June 12 – Manchester 6, UTICA 3 | Recap/highlights
Game 5 – Sat., June 13 – Manchester 2, UTICA 1