The Manchester Monarchs, Hartford Wolf Pack, and Grand Rapids Griffins have been set and ready to go for the the 2015 AHL Calder Cup Conference Finals. As far as the Griffins are concerned they just needed to await the winner of tonight’s Game 7 between the Utica Comets and Oklahoma City Barons. The Comets won 1-0 behind a 35-save shutout by Jacob Markström to bring the AHL down to its final four contenders for this year’s Calder Cup.
~Eastern Conference Finals~
(1) Manchester Monarchs vs. (3) Hartford Wolf Pack
Game 1 – Thu, May 21 – @ Manchester, 6pm CST
Game 2 – Sat, May 23 – @ Manchester, 6pm CST
Game 3 – Tue, May 26 – @ Hartford, 6pm CST
Game 4 – Wed, May 27 – @ Hartford, 6pm CST
Game 5 – Sat, May 30 – @ Manchester, 6pm CST
Game 6 – Sun, May 31 – @ Hartford, 6pm CST
Game 7 – Tue, June 2 – @ Manchester, 6pm CST
~Western Conference Finals~
(1) Utica Comets vs. (2) Grand Rapids Griffins
Game 1 – Sun, May 24 – @ Utica, 6pm CST
Game 2 – Mon, May 25 – @ Utica, 6pm CST
Game 3 – Thu, May 28 – @ Grand Rapids, 6pm CST
Game 4 – Fri, May 29 – @ Grand Rapids, 6pm CST
Game 5 – Sun, May 31 – @ Grand Rapids, 4pm CST
Game 6 – Tue, June 2 – @ Utica, 6pm CST
Game 7 – Wed, June 3 – @ Utica, 6pm CST
There was a slight upset there by the Wolf Pack to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Hartford, the third seed, was able to top the second seeded Hershey Bears 4-2 in six games – winning two of the four in overtime to advance.
As for the top seed in the East it was another five game series for them. The Manchester Monarchs were pushed to the brink of elimination in their opening series against the eighth seeded Portland Pirates but came back with a powerful reminder of just how strong they are by defeating the fourth seeded Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 4-1 and pelting the league’s top rookie and goaltender this season, Matt Murray, with 150 shots and 15 goals.
The Griffins were able to get the better of the fourth seeded Rockford IceHogs in the semifinals. Grand Rapids won the series 4-1 in five games with Teemu Pulkkinen scoring 9 points (7 goals, 2 assists). The Finn is now the Griffins all-time leader in playoff goal scoring with 21 goals in 34 career AHL playoff games.
Lastly, the Comets and Barons was a series that established just how tight things were going to be with Game 1. The two battled all the way into quadruple overtime and fought to the distance – all the way to a Game 7. Utica had the chance to eliminate OKC back in Game 6 but did get the job done by the hairs of their netminder’s chinny chin chin to do so.
I don’t know about you folks but my prediction of a Griffins over the Monarchs in this year’s 2015 AHL Calder Cup Final is still all systems go. I feel like that opening round series for Manchester was a slight wake up call that got them fired back up. As nice as it is to see Chris Mueller and the Wolf Pack get past Hershey I just don’t see them pulling off yet another upset. As for those Griffins? They have it all but, mostly, they have Pulkkinen and that will make all the difference when this year’s Calder Cup is decided. No offense Utica.
As for the ECHL‘s Conference Finals – things are still aligned for the Scott Ford vs. Gary Steffes showdown that would makes us all actually interested in this year’s Kelly Cup Finals. Ford’s South Carolina Stingrays are currently up 3-0 in their series against Jared Nightingale‘s Toledo Walleye. Steffes and his Allen Americans are currently deadlocked 1-1 in their playoff series against the Ontario Reign. Allen went through a similar start on home ice in the previous series in which they eventually beat the Rapid City Rush 4-2 in six games.
Who do you see advancing to this year’s AHL Calder Cup Finals? How about the ECHL Kelly Cup Finals?