The Manchester Monarchs dropped their rematch with the Hershey Bears on Saturday night, but minutes later their ticket to the Calder Cup Playoffs was punched anyway.
When Springfield lost a 3-2 overtime decision to Hartford, the Monarchs became the first team to clinch a berth in the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs, more than three weeks before the end of the regular season.
The Monarchs, currently first in the entire American Hockey League with 92 points (42-16-6-2), will head to the postseason for the sixth year in a row and the 13th time in 14 seasons as members of the AHL. Manchester holds an 11-point lead over Providence as it bids for a second straight Atlantic Division title and fourth overall.
The Monarchs are led by first-year head coach Mike Stothers, who won a Calder Cup as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Phantoms in 1998 and as a player with the Maine Mariners in 1984. Forwards Brian O’Neill and Jordan Weal are currently 1-2 in the AHL scoring race, goaltender Jean-Francois Berube leads the league in wins and Colin Miller is second among all AHL defensemen in points.
Eight teams in each conference will qualify for the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs. For more information and daily updates on the playoff races, check out the official AHL Playoff Primer.