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Marlies complete second straight sweep, win East title

The Toronto Marlies have won the Richard F. Canning Trophy as the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference champions for 2017-18, claiming the title with a 3-1 victory over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in Game 4 of their best-of-seven series at PPL Center in Allentown, Pa., on Friday night.

The Marlies are heading to the Calder Cup Finals for the second time in seven seasons.

Andreas Johnsson continued his torrid postseason pace with two more goals, including the tiebreaking score with 16:33 left in regulation. The Marlies have not lost in nine games since Johnsson (6-9-15) returned to the lineup from a stint with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs.

Garret Sparks (10-2) made 19 saves in Game 4 for Toronto, which allowed a total of 36 shots over the final two games of the series.

Trevor Moore iced the sweep with an empty-net goal with 41.9 seconds to go, his fourth goal of the playoffs.

Travis Sanheim scored the only Phantoms goal, a power-play tally in the second period.

Alex Lyon (6-5) stopped 26 of 28 shots for Lehigh Valley.

Led by head coach Sheldon Keefe, the Marlies finished with the best record in the AHL during the regular season (54-18-2-2, 112 points, .737), then defeated the Utica Comets (3-2) in the division semifinals before sweeping both the Syracuse Crunch (4-0) and the Phantoms (4-0) to earn the right to play for the Calder Cup.

Established in 1990, the AHL’s Eastern Conference championship trophy honors Richard F. Canning, who served the AHL for more than 50 years during his career, including a term as league president from 1958-61. Mr. Canning is recognized as the author of the AHL’s constitution, by-laws and regulations.

Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
N1-Toronto Marlies vs. A1-Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Game 1 – Sat., May 19 – TORONTO 4, Lehigh Valley 3 | Recap/Highlights
Game 2 – Sun., May 20 – TORONTO 3, Lehigh Valley 2 (OT) | Recap/Highlights
Game 3 – Wed., May 23 – Toronto 5, LEHIGH VALLEY 0 | Recap/Highlights
Game 4 – Fri., May 25 – Toronto 3, LEHIGH VALLEY 1