The Kings’ AHL affiliate Manchester Monarchs have advanced to the league’s Eastern Conference Final for just the third time in franchise history. They’ll match up against the Hartford Wolf Pack in a best-of-seven game series beginning Thursday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire.
The Monarchs defeated the Portland Pirates in the opening series of the postseason in five games against the Portland Pirates. 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.
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.
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
MANCHESTER MONARCHS - HARTFORD WOLF PACK
Thursday, May 21 - AT MANCHESTER, 7:00 PM
Saturday, May 23 – AT MANCHESTER, 7:00 PM
Tuesday, May 26 – AT HARTFORD, 7:00 PM
Wednesday, May 27 – AT HARTFORD, 7:00 PM
*Saturday, May 30 – AT MANCHESTER, 7:00 PM
*Sunday, May 31 – AT HARTFORD, 7:00 PM
*Tuesday, June 2 – AT MANCHESTER, 7:00 PM
All Times EST
The Monarchs faced the Hartford Wolf Pack on four occasions during the regular season, posting a 3-0-0-1 record. Manchester earned seven of eight possible points in the standings against the Wolf Pack this season; the Monarchs' lone loss to Hartford came during the club's final meeting of the regular season, falling 3-2 in a shootout. The Wolf Pack have not beaten the Monarchs in regulation time since April 4, 2014.
The Monarchs, who qualified for home ice advantage throughout the playoffs, have a perfect 5-0 record during the postseason at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Manchester won all three games played at home in the first round against Portland, as well as the two games played at home against Wilkes-Barre Scranton in the second round. Can the Monarchs continue their winning ways on home ice to kick off their series against the Hartford Wolf Pack?
FIRST TO STRIKE
The Monarchs have scored the first goal in seven of their 10 playoff games so far. In those seven games in which they’ve register the opening marker, they’re a perfect 7-0. All three of Manchester’s playoff losses have come when their opponent records the first goal of a given contest.
Hartford finished the regular season with a 43-24-5-4 mark, good for 95 points which clinched the Northeast Division, and saw them finish with the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference. With their impressive record, comes a pair of dangerous offensive weapns. Hartford had two players in the top 10 in goals scored during the regular season; Chris Bourque had 29 while Oscar Lindberg buried 28. The Monarchs' Brian O'Neill, however, led the entire league in points scored - totaling in with 80 (22G, 58A) at season's end.
HIGHLIGHTS: VS HARTFORD (2/27/15)
HIGHLIGHTS: VS HARTFORD (3/8/15)
THE WEAL DEAL
Forward Jordan Weal is on his way to rewriting the Monarchs' record books as they fight for a Calder Cup Championship in their final AHL season in Manchester. Weal is currently tied for the lead in points scored during the postseason with 15 (10G, 5A). Weal is the first ever player to record double-digit goals during a single postseason, and is only two points behind Patrick O'Sullivan (17 points in 2007) for the most points ever recorded by a Monarchs player during a single playoff season.
Weal now has 20 points in 18 career playoff games with the Monarchs, putting him third all-time in franchise history. Weal is one point behind Justin Azevedo (21), and five behind Bud Holloway's franchise record of 25.