Alignment, formats announced for ’05-’06

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews made several announcements today from the AHL Board of Governors’ annual meeting at Amelia Island, Fla.

First, the Board approved the conference and division alignment and playoff plan for the 2005-06 American Hockey League season:

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division East Division
Albany River Rats Binghamton Senators
Hartford Wolf Pack Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Lowell Lock Monsters Hershey Bears
Manchester Monarchs Norfolk Admirals
Portland Pirates Philadelphia Phantoms
Providence Bruins Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Springfield Falcons

Western Conference
North Division West Division
Cleveland Barons Chicago Wolves
Grand Rapids Griffins Houston Aeros
Hamilton Bulldogs Iowa Stars
Manitoba Moose Milwaukee Admirals
Rochester Americans Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights
Syracuse Crunch Peoria Rivermen
Toronto Marlies San Antonio Rampage

At the conclusion of the 2005-06 regular season, the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs will feature the top four teams in each of the four divisions, with one possible exception: if the fifth-place team in the Atlantic Division finishes with more points than the fourth-place team in the East Division, it would cross over and compete in the East Division playoffs. The postseason format will again feature a divisional playoff, leading to conference finals and ultimately the Calder Cup Finals. All rounds will comprise best-of-seven series.

The Board of Governors also approved the schedule format for the 2005-06 regular season (see accompanying grid). The AHL’s 70th season, which will begin on Wed., Oct. 12, will comprise a total of 1,080 games, with each of the league’s 27 member teams playing an unbalanced 80-game schedule, including 40 home dates and 40 road dates and featuring both traditional and regional rivalries. The entire 2005-06 schedule is expected to be announced in late July.

In continuous operation since 1936, the AHL serves as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. During the 2004-05 season, an all-time record of 7.1 million fans attended AHL games across North America.