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Monarchs face Utica Comets in Calder Cup Final

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings



The Kings’ primary affiliate Manchester Monarchs have advanced to the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Final for the first time in the franchise’s 14-year history. They’ll meet the Western Conference Champion Utica Comets in the best-of-seven game final, which kicks off Saturday evening in New Hampshire at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

THE JOURNEY

MONARCHS DEF. PORTLAND 3-2

The Monarchs defeated the Portland Pirates in the opening series of the postseason in five games. The Monarchs’ series clinching victory was the franchise’s first-ever win in the final and deciding game of a playoff series; they had previously gone winless in three series-deciding contests.


MONARCHS DEF. WILKES-BARRE SCRANTON 4-1

In the second round, the Monarchs bested the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and the AHL’s top ranked goaltender Matt Murray. Manchester won the series in five games, clinching the series on the road. For the Monarchs, it was just the second time in franchise history they won a best-of-seven game playoff series in five games or less.


MONARCHS DEF. WOLF PACK 4-0

In the Eastern Conference Final against the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Monarchs decided the series in swift fashion, pulling out a four-game sweep; it was just the Monarchs second playoff series sweep in franchise history. Manchester outscored Utica 18-10, Michael Mersch led the way for the Monarchs with five goals scored in the three games he played during the series. Jean-Francois Berube started all four games in the series, stopping 76 of the 86 shots he faced.

CALDER CUP FINAL

Game 1 – Saturday, June 6 – AT MANCHESTER, 6:00 PM
Game 2 – Sunday, June 7 – AT MANCHESTER, 5:00 PM
Game 3 – Wednesday, June 10 – AT UTICA, 7:00 PM
Game 4 – Friday, June 12 – AT UTICA, 7:00 PM
**Game 5 – Saturday, June 13 – AT UTICA, 7:00 PM
**Game 6 – Tuesday, June 16 – AT MANCHESTER, 7:00 PM
**Game 7 – Wednesday, June 17 – AT MANCHESTER, 7:00 PM

** IF NECESSARY
ALL GAME TIMES IN EST

COMETS COMING

The Utica Comets posted the second-best record in the AHL during the regular season, going 47-20-7-2, good for 103 points behind only Manchester’s league-best 109. The Comets finished the season first in the Northeast Division, and first overall in the Western Conference.

FIRST TIME AROUND

There are a lot of firsts in the mix for this series between Manchester and Utica. The Comets, who joined the American Hockey League prior to the 2013-’14 season, are playing in the franchise’s first Calder Cup postseason. For the Monarchs, this is their first trip to the Calder Cup Final in their 14-year history; Manchester has qualified for the playoffs in 13 of their 14 seasons, missing out only during the 2008-’09 campaign. Saturday night will mark the first ever meeting between the Monarchs and the Comets.

STOTHERS FOR THREE

Mike Stothers, in his first season as head coach of the Monarchs, has a chance at winning his third-career Calder Cup. Stothers won the AHL Championship with the Maine Mariners in 1984 as a player, and in 1998 as an assitant coach with the Philadelphia Phantoms. This is Stothers' first season as head coach of the Monarchs; he took over for Mark Morris, who led Manchester to the playoffs in seven of his eight seasons behind the Monarchs' bench.

HOME COOKIN'

The Monarchs, who earned home ice advantague throughout the postseason, have been extremely dominant in their home building, the Verizon Wireless Arena, this season. During the regular season, the Monarchs posted a dominant 37-7-1-0 record in Manchester. In the playoffs, the Monarchs are undefeated at home, posting a perfect 7-0 record. The first two games of this series will be played at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

FIRST TAKE

Notching the opening goal of contests has proved to be critical for the Monarchs' postseason success thus far. Manchester, in 14 playoff games, have scored the first goal of a given game 11 times; they are 11-0 when doing so. The Monarchs have surrendered the girst goal of a given game three times; they are 0-3 when doing so.

MARKED MAN MARKSTROM

Manchester’s high-octane offense will see Utica’s Jacob Markstrom in net when the series begins Saturday night. Markstrom, who has started 18 games during the postseason, has allowed two goals or fewer in 14 of those starts. Markstrom comes into the series with an 11-7 mark, posting a 1.87 GAA and a .931 SV%.

FIRE POWER

The Monarchs have five players on their roster who have registered 10 or more points during their playoff push. Brian O’Neill, who led the league in points during the regular season, while taking home the AHL’s MVP award, has registered 17 points (9G, 8A) in 14 postseason games. Jordan Weal has 19 points (10G, 9A), Michael Mersch 18 (11G, 7A). Sean Backman 13 (4G, 9A), and Nick Shore 11 (3G, 8A).

INSIDER

Jon Rosen is on his way to Manchester to provide coverage for LAKingsInsider.com, and will have day-to-day updates on Twitter at @lakingsinsider. Kings Vision is traveling to cover the series as well; they'll provide video clips of interviews, highlights, and other behind-the-scenes snippets.

WATCH IT LIVE

Every game of the Monarchs’ Calder Cup Final series will be available to be streamed live online at AHLLIVE.com for no charge. Select the “Finals All-Access Pass” and enter promo code “CALDERCUP” to view the live game broadcasts from the Verizon Wireless Arena and the Utica Memorial Auditorium.



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