GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – So, it has come to this. You can’t fight destiny, they say, and apparently, these two teams can’t, either. Each year since the Monarchs and Thunder have arrived in the ECHL, they have squared off in the Kelly Cup playoffs. And so it shall be a third time, with the winner moving on to an Eastern Conference Final which will not include the South Carolina Stingrays for the first time since 2014. To say the winner of this series could easily move on to the Finals wouldn’t be a stretch, as both teams have been a force this season. But first, they’ll have to go through each other one last time.
Final Regular Season Records:
Adirondack Thunder: 41-24-3-4 (1st in North Division, 3rd in Eastern Conference)
Manchester Monarchs: 41-25-3-3 (2nd in North Division, 4th in Eastern Conference)
Division Semifinals Results:
Adirondack Thunder: The first place Thunder defeated the fourth place Worcester Railers in six games (4-2-0).
Manchester Monarchs: The second place Monarchs defeated the third place Reading Royals in a four-game sweep. (4-0)
Game 1 – Friday, April 27 – Manchester at ADIRONDACK – 7 pm ET
Game 2 – Saturday, April 28 – Manchester at ADIRONDACK – 7 pm ET
Game 3 – Tuesday, May 1 – Manchester at ADIRONDACK 7 pm ET
Game 4 – Thursday, May 3 – Manchester at ADIRONDACK 7 pm ET
*Game 5 – Sunday, May 6 – Adirondack at MANCHESTER 6 pm ET
*Game 6 – Monday, May 7 – Adirondack at MANCHESTER 7 pm ET
*Game 7 – Wednesday, May 9 – Manchester at ADIRONDACK 7 pm ET
Season Series Recap:
The Thunder were the clear victors of the series this season, going 8-4-1-0 against the Monarchs. It was a series marked with a handful of high-scoring affairs (including a 6-5 shootout decision in their first meeting) and one shutout (a 5-0 Monarchs win on March 23rd.) As predicted at the start of the season: the winner of this series would go on to take the division, as the Thunder passed the Monarchs over the last weekend of the regular season to win the North Division crown.
How Adirondack Wins:
Keep Manchester’s Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman at bay. During the regular season, Manchester went 5-1-1-0 against Adirondack when LaVallee-Smotherman factored in the scoring. The Thunder were undefeated when LaVallee-Smotherman was held without a point.
How Manchester Wins:
The Monarchs need to play their game. They demonstrated in round one that they can hang with an elite goaltender in John Muse, who fought tooth and nail to keep the Royals in the series, but was outlasted by Manchester goaltender Charles Williams. They’ll face their next test in the form of MacKenzie Blackwood, a 21-year-old wunderkind who is carrying a GAA of 1.00 so far in these playoffs. The Monarchs used a combination of physicality and patient defense to oust the Royals in round one, and while it would be ludicrous to expect Williams to keep his streak of zero third-period-or-overtime goals alive, having a clutch tender in the playoffs is useful.