The Chase For Calder Begins Saturday
The Manchester Monarchs are headed to the post-season for the 11th time in their 12 seasons as a franchise. It seemed unlikely just a couple weeks ago with the Monarchs hovering outside the top eight teams that make the Calder Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference each year. Yet, the Monarchs found a way to string together six straight victories and clinched the seventh playoff seed in the 2013 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. The Monarchs will now play the second seeded Springfield Falcons in a best-of-five game series in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals beginning Saturday, April 27 in Massachusetts.
“We knew what we needed to do,” said Monarchs defenseman Andrew Campbell. “We had around 10 games left and knew we had to win about eight or nine of them. We came together and made it (to the post-season). We started doing the little things right and were just playing for each other. (Martin) Jones also played real well between the pipes for us and we were able to keep our season going.”
Having their backs against a wall and fighting for a post-season berth has become a familiar position for the Monarchs to be in the last couple of seasons. Manchester was in a similar position last season before they charged into the playoffs after clinching a berth on the last day of the regular season.
“I don’t know if we like it but obviously we respond well to it,” said Monarchs right wing Brandon Kozun about the team playing its best hockey when their backs are against a wall. “It shows a lot about this team, sticking together and sticking up for one another. It’s pretty special.”
This season’s playoff appearance is even more impressive when you consider the road they went through to get to this point.
“It has been a different year compared to seasons past,” reflected Campbell. “Between injuries, call-ups and losing guys to waivers, a lot has transpired throughout the season. It is pretty impressive what we were able to accomplish so far when you look back on it.”
The Monarchs are now looking forward to the playoffs where they square off with the Falcons in the post-season for the first time. Manchester was 2-3-0-1 against Springfield during the regular season. Springfield enjoyed a franchise year setting team records with 45 victories and 99 points en route to a Northeast Division crown.
“They obviously proved they’re a very good team,” said Kozun. “They’re very good in their own rink and it’s going to be a tough place to play but we just have to make sure that we keep things simple and do the right things and continue to play as a team.”
The Monarchs take on the Falcons at the MassMutual Center for Games One and Two on Saturday, April 27 and Sunday. April 28, respectively, before they return to the Verizon Wireless Arena for Game Three on Thursday, May 2 at 7:00 p.m. and Game Four, if necessary, on Saturday, May 4 at 7:00 p.m. If a Game Five is needed, it would be played in Springfield on Sunday, May 5 at 4:00 p.m.