Your Calder Cup Champions: Manchester Monarchs

The Manchester Monarchs celebrate after winning their first-ever Calder Cup. (American Hockey League via Facebook)

The Manchester Monarchs celebrate after winning their first-ever Calder Cup. (American Hockey League via Facebook)

The Manchester Monarchs closed the book on their time in the American League with a bang on Saturday, as they won the franchise’s first-ever Calder Cup with a 2-1 win over the Utica Comets.

Adrian Kempe opened the scoring at 10:02 of the first period, while Vincent LoVerde‘s second of the playoffs just 3:07 later made it a 2-0 game. Cal O’Reilly scored with just 14.8¬†seconds to play in the third period to put the Comets on the board, but the Monarchs were able to hold on and take the series in five games.

Replacing an injured Jean-Francois Berube, 22-year-old Patrik Bartosak (who made the first start of his playoff career in Game 4 — a 6-3 win) saved 31 of 32 pucks. Jacob Markstrom was saddled with the loss after allowing two goals on just 19 shots.

Jordan Weal earned the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy for playoff MVP, after a run that saw him score 12 goals and 22 points with a plus-19 rating.

The Monarchs’ 2015 playoff run was one of relative dominance. In addition to their five-game win over the Comets, they beat Portland 3-2 in the quarterfinals, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 4-1 in the semifinals and swept Hartford in the conference finals. Their 50-17-6-3 record with 109 points was also tops in the AHL.

The win certainly reflects well on the Los Angeles organization. After a season that saw the Kings miss the playoffs for the first time since 2009, management and fans at least got to see one of their teams win it all, which also inspires hope for the future.

Unfortunately for fans of the Monarchs, the Calder Cup won’t be coming back to New Hampshire next season. After 14 years in the AHL, the Monarchs will relegate to the ECHL and switch places with the Ontario (Calif.) Reign — who will still be the Kings’ affiliate. The move is part of the league’s initiative to create a five-team Californian division, and will certainly be easier on Kings prospects that get called up and sent down.

Follow Rob Riches on Twitter @Riches61

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