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Monarchs close out IceCats, win Atlantic

See also: First-round playoff schedules set

Noah Clarke and Denis Grebeshkov scored in the first period and Manchester held on for a 2-1 win over Worcester at the DCU Center on Sunday afternoon, giving the Monarchs the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference regular-season titles.

Manchester will open the 2005 Calder Cup Playoffs on Friday night at home against the Providence Bruins. Hartford and Lowell will square off in the other Atlantic Division semifinal, starting Thursday in Hartford.

Tom Kostopoulos assisted on both Monarchs goals and Mathieu Garon made 29 saves as Manchester finished with a mark of 51-21-4-4, good for 110 points.

It was the final game in the 11-year history of the Worcester IceCats. St. Louis will be moving its AHL affiliate to Peoria, Ill., in 2005-06.

The Monarchs’ division title is the franchise’s first after they placed second in each of their first three AHL campaigns.

Elsewhere on Sunday:
Brian Eklund made 44 saves as Springfield defeated Hartford, 3-1… The Wolf Pack will host Lowell on Thursday in Game 1 of their Atlantic Division semifinal… Anton Babchuk had two goals and an assist as Norfolk wrapped up third place in the East Division with a 4-2 win over Philadelphia… The Admirals and Phantoms will square off the division semifinals for the second straight spring… Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fell to fourth as Karl Goehring made 37 saves to lift Syracuse over the Penguins, 4-2… The Pens will face Binghamton in the first round… Bridgeport scored twice in the last 4:41 of regulation, then took care of Hershey in a shootout, 3-2… Cincinnati claimed third place in the West Division as Ilya Bryzgalov made 37 saves in a 3-2 win over Grand Rapids… The Mighty Ducks will meet the defending Calder Cup champions from Milwaukee in the first round… Simon Gamache recorded two goals and an assist as Milwaukee beat San Antonio, 6-1… Houston dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to Utah… The Aeros will travel to Chicago to open the Calder Cup Playoffs on Tuesday night… Brian Willsie and Graham Mink each had a goal and two assists in Portland’s 3-1 win over Providence… Chad Larose‘s third hat trick of the season helped Lowell past Albany, 6-1… Doug Murray and Tomas Plihal each recorded a goal and an assist for Cleveland in a 3-2 win over Rochester.