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Griffins first to punch playoff ticket

Michel Picard scored twice as Grand Rapids posted a 2-1 win in San Antonio on Saturday night, becoming the first of 20 teams to clinch a berth in the Calder Cup 2004 Playoffs.

The Griffins lead the West Division and the overall AHL standings with 86 points, and are in search of their third consecutive division title since joining the AHL in 2001.

Marc Lamothe made 36 saves in his return to the Grand Rapids lineup after a four-week stint in the NHL with Detroit.

Grand Rapids’ win, combined with Houston’s 5-0 victory over Utah, clinched the playoff spot for the Griffins. Mark Cullen recorded three assists and the Aeros fired 51 shots on goal to earn their victory over the Grizzlies.

Elsewhere on Saturday:
Manitoba finished with a remarkable 50-9 edge in shots on goal, but Pascal Leclaire was perfect and Brad Moran scored in the first period as Syracuse stunned the Moose, 1-0… Darren Haydar recorded two goals and an assist to lead Milwaukee to a 7-2 rout of Cincinnati… Hamilton scored four times in the third period to earn a 5-3 win over Chicago before 14,112 fans at Allstate Arena… David Cullen got his second goal of the game at 3:18 of overtime to give Rochester a 3-2 win over Cleveland… Pavel Rosa and Yanick Lehoux scored 58 seconds apart in the third period to lead Manchester past Portland, 3-1… Tyler Moss made 40 saves for his first win as a Roadrunner and his fourth shutout of the season, a 3-0 Toronto win over St. John’s… Former Sound Tiger Steve Valiquette posted a 32-save shutout in his Hartford debut, but the Wolf Pack had to settle for a 0-0 tie in Bridgeport… Tomas Surovy scored two goals and added an assist as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton shut out Philadelphia, 4-0… Jeff Panzer had a goal and two assists to lead Worcester to a 5-2 victory over Hershey… Andre Savage and Carl Corazzini scored during a five-minute power play in the first period to propel Providence to a 4-2 win over Springfield.