Monarchs close AHL era in Manchester with title

Monarchs close AHL era in Manchester with title

image By ROB SANDERSON
Special to the Union Leader

June 13. 2015 10:40PM

Monarchs goalie Patrik Bartosak deflects a shot early in the first period. The Manchester Monarchs took on the Utica Comets in game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals Saturday, June 13, 2015, at the Utica Memorial Auditorium in Utica, N.Y. (Ron Johns/Observer-Dispatch)


UTICA, N.Y. - The Manchester Monarchs' bus is headed back from Upstate New York with an extra passenger, the American Hockey League's Calder Cup.

On Saturday night, the Monarchs completed their most successful season in franchise history with a 2-1 win in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals, winning the series 4 games to 1.

Manchester finishes its final season in the AHL with the league's championship.

Following the game, AHL President and CEO David Andrews made his way onto the Utica Memorial Auditorium ice to present the 35-pound trophy to Monarchs captain Vincent LoVerde.

Manchester was victorious in overtime in each of the first two games of the series, both played at Verizon Wireless Arena. But their first-ever visit to Utica, Game 3 on Wednesday night, did not go as planned, falling 3-2 and losing starting goaltender Jean-Francois Berube in the process to a lower-body injury.

The Monarchs then dug deep and found a way to turn the series back in their favor, dominating Utica on Friday night by a score of 6-3 and never looking back.

For a fourth time this series, the Monarchs opened up the scoring. Adrian Kempe, Los Angeles' 18-year-old first-round pick in last year's NHL Entry Draft, tallied his fourth goal in three games. LoVerde then connected on a one-timer from Nic Dowd for a power play goal at 13:09. It appeared as though Manchester was going to take a 3-0 lead, but a Michael Mersch goal was overturned after review, with the official ruling that his arm illegally directed the Adrian Kempe, Los Angeles' 18-year-old first-round pick in last year's NHL Entry Draft, tallied his fourth goal in three games. LoVerde then connected on a one-timer from Nic Dowd for a power play goal at 13:09. It appeared as though Manchester was going to take a 3-0 lead, but a Michael Mersch goal was overturned after review, with the official ruling that his arm illegally directed the puck into the net.

Utica controlled the puck for the majority of the second period, but Monarchs netminder Patrik Bartosak continued to deny the Comets' chances. Equally important for Manchester was the courageous shot-blocking of players such as Dowd, as well as two consecutive penalty kills late in the period.

Throughout a tightly-contested third period, the Monarchs continued to limit Comets players to the perimeter of the offensive zone. The sold-out crowd of 3,835, widely believed to be the loudest fan base in the American Hockey League, did everything they could to motivate and energize the Comets.

With netminder Jacob Markstrom pulled in favor of an extra attacker, Comets captain Cal O'Reilly scored with 14.8 seconds remaining in regulation.

Manchester's Nick Shore won a critical defensive-zone face-off with 6.5 seconds to play. Then the final horn sounded.

Sticks and gloves were heaved into the air as the Monarchs swarmed Bartosak and celebrated their championship.

Monarchs center Jordan Weal received the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as playoff MVP, scoring 10 goals and adding 12 assists in 19 games.

Bartosak finished the game with 31 saves.

This marks the first Calder Cup championship in Monarchs' franchise history. Forward Josh Gratton (Philadelphia, 2005), defenseman Jeff Schultz (Hershey, 2006) and head coach Mike Stothers (as a player - Maine, 1984) will each receive their second career Calder Cup rings.

Manchester is the 31st different city to win the Calder Cup since it was first awarded in 1938.

Next season, the Monarchs will remain in professional hockey as members of the ECHL, which competes for the Kelly Cup. But for now, the Monarchs return to Manchester to celebrate leaving the AHL on top.


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Source : http://www.unionleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20150613/SPORTS0702/150619551/1019/NEWHAMPSHIRE1401

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