If there was any question who was at the head of the AHL class in 2003-04, the answer came with an exclamation point on Sunday afternoon, as Milwaukee rolled to a 7-2 victory over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and captured the Calder Cup 2004 championship in a clean four-game sweep of the Penguins.
The Admirals scored 65 seconds into the game and never looked back, upping the lead to 2-0 by the 5:00 mark of the first period, 4-1 after 20 minutes, and 7-1 with less than six minutes gone in the second.
Darren Haydar capped a stellar sophomore season by scoring twice and adding an assist while 23-year-old winger Simon Gamache recorded one goal and three assists in the clincher. Haydar finished as the AHL’s postseason leader with 11 goals and 26 points.
Veteran backstop Wade Flaherty turned aside 31 shots for his 16th win of the postseason, an all-time AHL high. Flaherty wound up winning 14 of his final 16 starts in the postseason and finished with a seven-game winning streak.
Milwaukee’s Jay Henderson became the fourth player in AHL history to win a Calder Cup with three different teams, while he and Curtis Murphy are the 16th and 17th players to win in consecutive seasons with different clubs.
Admirals head coach Claude Noel is the 12th man ever to win Calder Cup titles as both a player and a coach.
Milwaukee’s claim to the Calder Cup keeps the AHL’s coveted championship trophy in the Western Conference for the third straight year. Chicago won the title in 2002, and Houston followed in 2003.