The Manchester Monarchs, the Los Angeles Kings AHL affiliate, are Calder Cup champions. Manchester defeated the Utica Comets in five games, with the Cup-clinching victory coming on the back of two early goals scored little more than three minutes apart by Adrian Kempe and Vincent LoVerde.
The Monarchs, who were the regular season’s best team with a record 50-17-6-3 record, captured the Calder Cup in 19 games, never taking more than two losses in a single series. The closest the Monarchs came to dropping a series was in the first round against the Portland Pirates, where they emerged victorious from the best-of-five series 3-2.
Jordan Weal was named the Jack A. Butterfield trophy winner as the AHL playoff MVP, scoring 10 goals and 22 points in 19 games. Weal’s 22 points tied him with Monarchs rookie Michael Mersch, who scored 13 goals and 22 points in 18 games.
“It’s awesome. We’ve been working so hard all year," Weal told LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen. "We have such a great group of guys. To be able to win it with a group like this, it’s so much fun. We wanted this so bad; we wanted it real bad. ... We have so many competitors in our dressing room. Every practice, we’re battling against each other to make each other better, and that’s why we were the best."
Game 5’s first star, with 31 saves on 32 shots, was netminder Patrik Bartosak. Following an injury to Moncarchs netminer Jean-Francois Berube, Bartosak was thrust into the spotlight as the Manchester starting netminder and won back-to-back games to capture the Calder Cup.
“Unbelievable group of guys, unbelievable team,” Bartosak told Rosen post-game. “The greatest team I’ve ever been on so far. That’s all I’m going to remember.”
With their victory, Manchester captures their first Calder Cup in franchise history, which also comes in their final season as the Monarchs. Next season, the club will shift to Ontario, Calif., where they will play as the AHL’s Ontario Reign. They are the first AHL team since the New Brunswick Hawks in 1982 to win a championship in their final year in the league.