Marlies, Stars to bring curtain down Thursday

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The final game of the 2017-18 hockey season will be played in Toronto on Thursday night when the Toronto Marlies take on the Texas Stars in Game 7 of the 2018 Calder Cup Finals at Ricoh Coliseum.

It will be just the 11th Game 7 in Calder Cup Finals history, and the first since 2003.

The AHL’s 82nd championship series has been a see-saw battle, with the Marlies winning Games 1, 3 and 5 and the Stars responding in Games 2, 4 and 6. Texas forced the deciding game with a 5-2 road victory on Tuesday.

Head coach Sheldon Keefe’s Marlies finished the regular season with the best record in the AHL and entered the Finals with just two playoff losses, but have been pushed to the limit by head coach Derek Laxdal’s Stars. Texas is bidding for its second Calder Cup championship in five seasons; Toronto is trying to bring the first men’s professional hockey championship to the city since 1967.

The Marlies, top development team of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, have been led offensively this postseason by Andreas Johnsson, who has a league-leading 21 points in 15 games since rejoining the club after the Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup Playoff run ended. Toronto’s roster also includes 2017 first-round draft pick Timothy Liljegren, 2016 second-round pick Carl Grundstrom and 2015 second-rounder Travis Dermott.

The Stars, top development team of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, have been led by captain Curtis McKenzie, a veteran of 99 NHL games who leads the AHL with 11 goals this postseason. Justin Dowling leads all skaters with eight points during the Finals, and goaltender Mike McKenna is coming off a 43-save performance in Tuesday’s Game 6 victory.

Game 7 of the 2018 Calder Cup Finals – the last game of the 2017-18 hockey season anywhere in the world – will be televised live on TSN2 and Leafs Nation Network in Canada and on NHL Network in the United States. It can also be heard on NHL Network Radio (SiriusXM 91) and is available via streaming on AHL Live. Coverage begins Thursday at 7 p.m. ET with Todd Crocker, Bob McGill and Paul Hendrick on the call.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 31 National Hockey League teams. More than 87 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL in their careers.

Winner-Take-All Games – Calder Cup Finals

Game 7 June 12, 2003 at Hamilton Houston Aeros 3, Hamilton Bulldogs 0
Game 7 June 13, 1996 at Rochester Rochester Americans 2, Portland Pirates 1
Game 7 May 29, 1992 at St. John’s Adirondack Red Wings 5, St. John’s Maple Leafs 2
Game 7 May 23, 1987 at Sherbrooke Rochester Americans 4, Sherbrooke Canadiens 2
Game 7 May 1, 1963 at Buffalo Buffalo Bisons 6, Hershey Bears 2
Game 7 April 16, 1953 at Cleveland Cleveland Barons 1, Pittsburgh Hornets 0 (OT)*
Game 7 April 21, 1951 at Cleveland Cleveland Barons 3, Pittsburgh Hornets 1
Game 7 April 17, 1949 at Providence Providence Reds 4, Hershey Bears 2
Game 7 April 15, 1947 at Hershey Hershey Bears 5, Pittsburgh Hornets 0
Game 7 April 14, 1946 at Buffalo Buffalo Bisons 5, Cleveland Barons 2
Game 5 April 5, 1942 at Indianapolis Indianapolis Capitals 8, Hershey Bears 3
Game 5 April 10, 1941 at Cleveland Cleveland Barons 3, Hershey Bears 2 (OT)*
*overtime period was not sudden-death