Toronto’s championship hockey drought could soon come to an end, thanks to the Toronto Marlies. The Marlies defeated the Oklahoma City Barons 3-1 on Friday night to win their series in five games and advance to the Calder Cup final.
The AHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Western Conference title, capping a remarkable run through the playoffs. The Marlies swept the Rochester Americans in the opening round then beat the Abbotsford Heat in the second round in five games. They enter the championship series with an 11-2 playoff record.
Defenceman Simon Gysbers scored his first goal of the playoffs midway through the third period to break a 1-1 tie and give Toronto a lead it would not surrender. Matt Frattin scored in the first period then iced the game with an empty-netter with 42 seconds remaining. Chris VandeVelde scored for the Barons.
Marlies goalie Ben Scrivens, who played 12 games in the NHL, made 26 saves for his 11th win of the playoffs.
The Marlies face the Norfolk Admirals in the Calder Cup final. The Admirals have been nearly has dominant in the AHL playoffs as the Marlies. They swept the St. John’s Ice Caps in the Eastern Conference finals after winning their first two series in four and six games, respectively.
The Marlies’ team features a number of players familiar to Maple Leafs fans. Defenceman Jake Gardiner had a standout rookie season for the Leafs, appearing in 75 games and recording 30 points. Frattin played 56 games for the Maple Leafs, scoring eight goals. Prospects Nazem Kadri, Joe Colborne and Carter Ashton all spent time in the NHL this season.
The Maple Leafs, of course, have not won a Stanley Cup, nor been to a final, since 1967.
A Maple Leafs farm team last played for a Calder Cup in 1992 when the St. John’s Maple Leafs, led by goalie Felix Potvin, made a run to the final before losing to the Adirondack Red Wings in seven games.
Last season, the Binghamton Senators, the AHL affiliate of the Ottawa Senators, won the Calder Cup in six games over the Houston Aeros.