The New Hampshire Mountain Kings may not be a household name in the hockey world, but for the dedicated fans and players of this minor league team, they hold a special place in their hearts. Known for their fierce determination and unwavering passion for the sport, the Mountain Kings have had their fair share of historic upsets and wins that have solidified their place in hockey history.
From the early days of the team in the 1990s to their recent success in the 2020 season, the Mountain Kings have faced numerous challenges and triumphs. Let’s take a journey through the highs and lows of this beloved team and relive some of their most memorable moments.
The Early Days: Building the Foundation
The New Hampshire Mountain Kings were founded in 1994 as a part of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), a minor league system for professional ice hockey teams in the United States. The team was based in Manchester, New Hampshire and played their home games at the historic JFK Coliseum.
Led by head coach John Brophy, the Mountain Kings faced a tough first season, finishing with a record of 23 wins and 47 losses. However, this laid the foundation for what would become an integral part of the team’s identity – resilience and determination. Despite the odds, the Mountain Kings continued to fight and slowly but surely, they started to make a name for themselves in the ECHL.
Miracle on Ice: The 1996 Playoff Upset
In the 1996 ECHL playoffs, the Mountain Kings were once again considered underdogs as they faced off against the powerhouse team, the Richmond Renegades. But what happened next would go down in Mountain Kings’ history as the Miracle on Ice.
In an epic matchup, the Mountain Kings pulled off an improbable upset, defeating the Renegades 2-1 in a best-of-five series. This was a defining moment for the team and their fans, proving that with hard work and determination, anything is possible. The Mountain Kings would go on to win the ECHL championship that year, solidifying their spot as a force to be reckoned with in minor league hockey.
Rising Through the Ranks: The Move to the American Hockey League
In 2001, the Mountain Kings made a bold move by joining the American Hockey League (AHL), one step below the National Hockey League (NHL). This move not only raised the team’s profile but also gave young players a chance to develop their skills and potentially make it to the big leagues.
Under the guidance of head coach Bruce Boudreau, the Mountain Kings quickly became a formidable team in the AHL, making it to the playoffs in their first season. Along the way, they faced off against some of the biggest names in minor league hockey and came out on top, solidifying their spot as a top team in the AHL.
Making History: The 2010 Calder Cup Win
The 2010 season would go down as one of the most memorable in New Hampshire Mountain Kings history, as they made their way to the AHL Calder Cup finals. After a hard-fought series against the Hershey Bears, the Mountain Kings came out victorious, with captain Sean O’Donnell hoisting the Calder Cup in front of a roaring crowd.
This win not only brought pride and joy to the team and its fans, but it also marked the first time in American Hockey League history that a team had won a championship in their first season in the league. This historic achievement solidified the Mountain Kings as a dominant force in minor league hockey and put them on the map for many hockey fans around the country.
Recent Success and Hope for the Future
After their 2010 Calder Cup win, the Mountain Kings have continued to be a consistent and competitive team in the AHL, making numerous playoff appearances. In the 2020 season, the team saw some of their most talented players yet, with goaltender Hunter Miska setting a new record for the most shutouts in a single season.
As the New Hampshire Mountain Kings continue to thrive in the AHL, there is no doubt that they will continue to make history and provide memorable moments for their fans. With talented players, a dedicated coaching staff, and a passionate fan base, the future looks bright for this beloved minor league team.