The ECHL’s Manchester Monarchs are ceasing operations, the team announced Wednesday.

The announcement means next winter will be the first in 18 years that professional hockey isn’t played at the city-owned arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, currently named SNHU Arena.

The team had been for sale, but Monarchs chief executive Brian Cheek said no offer was acceptable.

“It’s just clear to us minor league hockey is not viable in Manchester at the ECHL level,” Cheek said.

The Monarchs started in Manchester as the American Hockey League affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings when the arena opened in 2001.

Both Monarchs and the arena prospered, sparking a downtown revival. In its third year, the team drew a league-best average attendance of 9,141 fans.

But the Kings moved their AHL affiliate to southern California four years ago, and the Monarchs moved to the lower-level ECHL for the 2015-16 season.

The team has suffered dwindling attendance ever since, and drew an average of 2,400 spectators per game in 2018-19.


KENTUCKY DERBY: The owners of Maximum Security have sued the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and race stewards in federal court, seeking to reverse the horse’s disqualification for interference and restoration of the $1.86 million winner’s share of the $3 million purse.

PREAKNESS: Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will seek his record-setting eighth Preakness victory Saturday with 5-2 morning line favorite Improbable, who will start from the No. 4 post in a field of 13 horses.

For the first time since 1951, the Preakness will not include the first four horses that crossed the finish line in the Kentucky Derby. Improbable finished fifth but was moved up to fourth following the disqualification of Maximum Security for interference.

War of Will, the second choice at 4-1, received the No. 1 post in Wednesday’s draw. It’s the same post position he had in the Kentucky Derby, when he finished eighth and was moved up to seventh.


USL2: Kasper Andersen scored in the 84th minute to give GPS Portland Phoenix (2-0) a 1-0 win over the Boston Bolts (0-1-1) in Newton, Massachusetts.


FRENCH OPEN: Two-time French Open champion Maria Sharapova pulled out of the year’s second Grand Slam tournament because of her surgically repaired right shoulder.

The former No. 1 and owner of five major titles hasn’t competed anywhere since late January, when she withdrew from a tournament in Russia.


WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Patrick Kane scored a goal and had two assists to become the United States’ all-time leading scorer at the world championships in 6-3 win over Britain in Kosice, Slovakia.

Kane now has 36 career points, surpassing the record of 33 set by Mark Johnson. Kane has helped the U.S. win three straight games since opening with a loss to the host Slovaks. The Americans have preliminary-round games remaining against Denmark, Germany and Canada.


WNBA: The WNBA has a new leader with a new title.

The league hired Cathy Engelbert as commissioner. The previous four leaders of the WNBA had been known as president.

Engelbert has been CEO of accounting firm Deloitte US since 2015. She replaces Lisa Borders, who stepped down in October.