We have known for almost a week that the Manchester Monarchs would participate in their first ever AHL championship, the Calder Cup finals. The western conference took a little longer to figure out, but we finally know who the Monarchs opponent will be.
The Utica Comets defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins on Thursday night in game six of their series to advance to the Calder Cup. They shut out the Griffins, earning a 2-0 win in the final game of the series. They were led by Cory Conachar, who has been one of the hottest players in the AHL, and Jacob Markstrom, who has no doubt been the best goalie these playoffs.
This is just the second year the Comets have played in the AHL, and they already have earned a trip to the Calder Cup. They are the affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, while the Monarchs are affiliated with the Los Angeles Kings, so these players will see a lot of each other in the NHL as well.
The Comets had 103 points in the regular season, good for first place in the western conference’s north division. To advance to where they are now they had to knock off Grand Rapids, the Oklahoma City Barons, and the Chicago Wolves. Their semi final series against the Barons took all seven games, and a four overtime game was mixed in as well.
This is the last season the Monarchs will play out of New Hampshire, as they are moving to California for the American Hockey League’s new western division. Vancouver, also rather far west of Utica, could be switching up their affiliate at some point as well. Both Colorado and Arizona already have, though Arizona’s team is still in Massachusetts.
One of the interesting match ups on the ice of this series is Manchester’s Jordan Weal against Markstrom of Utica. Markstrom, who could be on the Canucks NHL roster next season, had stood on his head all playoffs. He shut out Grand Rapids in game six to close out the western finals. Meanwhile, Weal has been on an absolute tear for the Monarchs. He has 19 points in Manchester’s 14 playoff games, good for the most in the entire playoffs.
Game one of the series will be Saturday night at 6pm from the Verizon Wireless Center in Manchester, New Hampshire. This is the last year of AHL hockey in New Hampshire, so they have a chance to go out on top.
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