06/11/2016 9:38 PM
Photo by: John Saraya
Article By: Mitch Wilkins
Rockford, Ill. - With a 1-0 overtime victory on Saturday night against the Hershey Bears, the Lake Erie Monsters brought home their first Calder Cup championship with a sweep of Hershey, 4-0, in the best-of-seven series.
With a blistering close to the season, the Monsters caught fire when it mattered most. Lake Erie had a strong regular season (43-22-6-5, 97 points) but the bulk of their points came down the stretch as the Monsters captured nine victories in their final 11 regular season contests to catapult themselves into the playoffs. Lake Erie went 15-2 in the postseason and finished the year winning 24 of their last 28 games overall.
Former IceHogs center Alex Broadhurst was a key contributor for the Monsters in the Calder Cup Finals where he notched two points (2a) with a helper in Game 1 and Game 3. Overall in the playoffs, Broadhurst recorded 12 points (3g-9a) in 17 games.
The Orland Park, Illinois native was part of a trade between the Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets that included Brandon Saad last June. Broadhurst enjoyed a strong regular season down in Lake Erie, finishing with 36 points (10g-26a) in 60 contests. He also finished third on the team in assists (26) and immediately became an impact scorer on special teams tying for second in power-play goals (5) for Lake Erie.
The Lake Erie Monsters, top development team of the Columbus Blue Jackets, finished the postseason with three series sweeps and won their final 10 playoff games, outscoring their opponents 33-17 during that span. Under head coach Jared Bednar, the Monsters defeated the Rockford IceHogs (3-0), Grand Rapids Griffins (4-2) and Ontario Reign (4-0) before sweeping Hershey in the Finals.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, a 21-year-old rookie and a third-round selection by Columbus in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, scored the game-winning tally in overtime of Game 4 and was awarded the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the MVP of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Bjorkstrand totaled 10 goals and six assists for 16 points in 17 games. Bjorkstrand tied an AHL record with six game-winning goals and set a new mark with three overtime goals in a single postseason.
Lake Erie’s victory marks the end of the AHL’s 80th season. In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and this season marked the 14th consecutive year in which more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America.
2016 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-seven)
A1-Hershey Bears vs. C2-Lake Erie Monsters
Game 1 – Wed., June 1 – Lake Erie 4, HERSHEY 1
Game 2 – Fri., June 3 – Lake Erie 5, HERSHEY 3
Game 3 – Mon., June 6 – Lake Erie 3, Hershey 2 (OT)
Game 4 – Sat., June 11 – Lake Erie 1, Hershey 0 (OT)