For those snake bit Kings fans that have been cursed with limited playoff success since the inception of the team, and even less success since 1993, it’s perhaps a silver lining to watch our minor league affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs be successful. Having only been in existence for nine years, the Monarchs have been relatively successful through the years, although they have (thus far) failed to bring home the Calder Cup. In fact, if they manage to win this series, the Monarchs will make the finals for the first time in their existence.
In game 6 of the AHL conference semi-final, the Monarchs defeated the Worcester Sharks 2-1 to clinch the series 4 games to 2. Gabe Gauthier and Vyacheslav Voynov were the scorers in the victory as Manchester stormed back from a 1-0 deficit in the 1st period, with Gauthier’s goal in the second period and Voynov’s winner in 1:55 into the first overtime period.
It was a big win for the minor league team, as Bernier and many of the Kings prospects are looking to prove that they are ready to take the next step, as well as absorb the ability to win. The intangible winning instinct is incredibly important in playoff hockey, and while minor league playoffs are never a substitute for the NHL playoffs, it’s a reasonable approximation, and these guys are looking to open the eyes of management. With potentially two or three positions on the Kings available next season, a strong performance in the playoffs may give some of them a leg up when it comes to training camp next fall.
The Monarchs will face the Hershey Bears in the Finals, after they swept Albany in the previous round. By virtue of having a stronger regular season record, the Bears will host the Monarchs in the series, with game 1 being played on Wednesday. The remainder of the series schedule is as follows:
- Game 1 – @ Hershey – Wednesday, May 12th
- Game 2 – @ Hershey – Saturday, May 15th
- Game 3 – Hershey – Monday, May 17th
- Game 4 – Hershey – Tuesday, May 18th
- Game 5 – Hershey – Thursday, May 20th (if necessary)
- Game 6 – @ Hershey – Saturday, May 22nd (if necessary)
- Game 7 – @ Hershey – Sunday, May 23rd (if necessary)
With any luck (and solid play from Bernier) the Monarchs could be booking their trip to the finals as soon as next week. It’s worth mentioning that the Monarchs last made the conference finals in 2006-2007 where they were swept by the Hershey Bears. Hopefully this series will have a different result!