The Drought at 11: annual playoff-winless examination

Let’s get this annual endless bit of exposition out of the way. It keeps growing, somehow. Used to be like one paragraph. Anyway.

The Sound Tigers last won a playoff series in 2003. (Game 3 against Manchester was 11 years ago tonight, as it happens, also a Friday.)

Since then, 25 of the other 29 teams in the league have won at least one. Lake Erie, the Albany Devils, Utica and the new Iowa are the four others who have not won a playoff series since 2003, though (a) all got a later start, like as in “this year” for the Comets; (2) three won playoff series in the Sound Tigers era in earlier incarnations (Iowa won a Cup and reached another final among other wins as the Houston Aeros, Albany won as the Lowell Lock Monsters in 2005, and Utica won as the Worcester IceCats in 2004 (though never as the Peoria Rivermen)); and (iii) Cleveland, Albany and Des Moines all had playoff victories in the meantime by other franchises that have since moved on (Cleveland’s in a preliminary round).

Aside from those four current franchises, only San Antonio and Springfield haven’t won a best-of-7 since Bridgeport beat Hamilton in 2002; San Antonio (2012) and Springfield (2013) both have only one (best-of-5) playoff-series win since then.

Albany and Springfield will get a chance to change that this year. (Though they could still face each other in the first round.)

(The Lake Erie franchise has never won in the AHL but, as the Utah Grizzlies, last won in the IHL in 1997. Springfield won the preliminary round in 2003 — the second and decisive game was the night before Bridgeport-Manchester began; I remember stopping on the way up and writing a short — and the first round last year but hasn’t won a best-of-7 since 1997. Adirondack didn’t make the playoffs in Glens Falls, but the league treats the Phantoms as the same franchise as Philadelphia, which last won a round in 2008.)

Aside from the Lock Monsters, Aeros and IceCats, five other defunct/moved-on clubs have also won one since 2003: Iowa, Cincinnati, Manitoba, the Albany River Rats and, in a preliminary round, the Cleveland Barons.

Michael Fornabaio