The American Hockey League handed out the first four invitations to the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs on Friday night, as the Providence Bruins, Springfield Falcons, Syracuse Crunch and Binghamton Senators all officially clinched postseason berths.
At 9:04 p.m. ET, the Bruins became the first team to secure a playoff spot this season when they wrapped up a 4-1 win over Albany. Alexander Khokhlachev scored his first two AHL goals and rookies Ryan Spooner and Torey Krug had two assists each for the Bruins, while CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month for March Niklas Svedberg made 18 saves for his 33rd win of the season.
The Bruins are back in the postseason for the first time since 2009.
The other three playoff berths were clinched 24 minutes later when Portland finished off a 4-2 victory in Manchester. That allowed the Falcons, Crunch and Senators to all clinch — even though all three would lose their own games on Friday night.
For Springfield, the "x" next to its name in the standings ends a nine-year playoff drought, the longest in AHL history. The Falcons’ most recent postseason appearance had come in 2003, when they were the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference and defeated Hartford in a qualifying series before losing to Hamilton in the conference quarterfinals.
Syracuse made the playoffs last season as an Anaheim Ducks affiliate; the Crunch are back this year as Tampa Bay’s top development club. The Crunch have never won the Calder Cup, but several members of their team did last year as members of the Norfolk Admirals.
And Binghamton is back in the postseason, one year after finishing 30th and last in the overall league standings but two years removed from winning the city’s first Calder Cup championship. The Senators are now bidding for their first division title since 2005.