Bears clinch East Division crown in playoff preview

Saturday’s Boxscores

Kyle Wilson netted a pair of goals as Hershey clinched its second East Division title in the last three seasons with a 3-2 win over Philadelphia on Saturday before 10,705 fans at the Giant Center. The first-place Bears will meet the fourth-place Phantoms in the division semifinals beginning next week.

Wilson opened the game’s scoring on the power play at 13:25 of the first period and then made it 2-0 with his 28th of the season just 1:43 into the second frame.

The Phantoms cut the deficit in half when 2008 first-round draft pick Luca Sbisa scored his first professional goal on the power play at 2:47 of the second.

It remained a 2-1 game into the third period until Bears defenseman Staffan Kronwall extended it to 3-1 at the 14:49 mark. That goal would prove to be the game-winner when Philadelphia rookie Patrick Maroon lit the lamp on the power play with 1:26 to go in regulation.

Rookie Francois Bouchard finished with a pair of assists for the Bears, and goaltender Michal Neuvirth earned the victory with 29 saves on 31 shots.

Hershey is 49-22-2-6 (106 points) heading into its regular-season finale against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday evening.

Bridgeport clinched second place in the East Division with a 3-1 win over Lowell in its regular-season finale in front of 7,122 fans at the Arena at Harbor Yard.

Lowell’s Stephen Gionta gave his team a 1-0 lead just 4:55 into the contest, but the Sound Tigers took a 2-1 advantage into intermission on markers from Ben Walter and Mike Iggulden.

After a scoreless second period, Iggulden added another at 8:15 of the third frame. Trevor Smith assisted on both of Iggulden’s goals, and Dustin Kohn also had two helpers on the night.

Bridgeport goaltender Peter Mannino stopped 22 of 23 shots in the winning effort to finish 17-12-2 for his rookie season.

The Sound Tigers conclude the regular season at 49-23-3-5 (106 points), setting franchise records in both wins and points. Bridgeport was eliminated from division title contention when Hershey beat Philadelphia, and the Sound Tigers will take on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the opening round of the playoffs.

Norfolk surrendered the game’s first two goals, scored the next four, and then held on for a 4-3 road win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at the Wachovia Arena in its season finale.

Brandon Buck posted a goal and an assist for his first professional points in the win, and the Admirals also got goals from Mike Sgroi, Radek Smolenak, and Blair Jones, his 20th of the season.

Juraj Simek registered two assists for the Admirals, and goaltender Craig Kowalski secured the win with 32 saves in net. Norfolk ended its season on a three-game winning streak and finished two points ahead of Albany for sixth place in the East Division.

Paul Bissonnette and Joe Vitale each posted a goal and an assist for the Penguins, who will finish third in the East and oppose second-place Bridgeport in the division semifinals.

AHL Rookie of the Year Nathan Gerbe netted a pair of goals as Portland clinched third place in the Atlantic Division with a 5-4 road win over Manchester at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

Colton Fretter potted a goal and an assist for the Pirates, Tyler Bouck added a tally, and defenseman Matt Generous scored his first professional goal.

AHL All-Rookie forward Tim Kennedy posted a pair of assists in the win, and goaltender Kellen Briggs stopped 25 shots in net.

The Pirates will square off with second-place Providence in the Atlantic Division semifinals beginning next week in Rhode Island.

Trevor Lewis registered a game-high three points (1-2-3) for the Monarchs, who missed the playoffs for the first time in their eight-year history.

Worcester goaltender Thomas Greiss finally collected his first career AHL shutout on Saturday, making 23 saves as the Sharks downed Providence by a 3-0 count in both teams’ regular-season finale. Attendance at the DCU Center was 7,406.

A third-year pro for Worcester, Greiss had gone his first 140 appearances without registering a shutout. Saturday’s win also allowed Greiss to finish with 30 wins on the season (30-24-2).

2009 AHL All-Star defenseman Derek Joslin netted a pair of power play goals for the Sharks, and Frazer McLaren initially gave Worcester a 1-0 lead at 13:56 of the second period.

Worcester will square off with Hartford in one Atlantic Division semifinal, while Providence draws Portland in the other.

Hartford broke a 3-3 tie with a pair of third-period goals and emerged with a 5-3 win over Springfield on Saturday before 7,171 fans at the XL Center.

Wolf Pack rookie Dale Weise tallied the game-winner at 10:50 of the third, and captain Greg Moore added an unassisted empty-net marker in the closing minute.

Weise and Patrick Rissmiller each had a goal and an assist for Hartford, while Artem Anisimov and defenseman David Urquhart also found twine.

Hartford goaltender Matt Zaba stopped 22 of 25 shots to finish his rookie regular season at 25-10-0. The Wolf Pack went 8-1-0-1 against Springfield on the campaign.

The Falcons netted a pair of power play tallies, with Ryan Stone, Ryan Potulny, and rookie Jordan Eberle doing the honors.

Defenseman Mathieu Carle scored 3:46 into overtime as Hamilton wrapped up the regular season with a 2-1 road win over Toronto on Saturday afternoon at Ricoh Coliseum.

Rookie David Desharnais scored in the second period and picked up the lone assist on the game-winner for the Bulldogs, who will face Grand Rapids in the division semifinals beginning next weekend.

Hamilton won five straight games to close the regular season and finished 49-27-4-0 for 102 points, matching its franchise record for victories. The Bulldogs also won 49 games in the 2002-03 season.

Marlies forward Bates Battaglia sent the game to overtime with a power play goal at 19:48 of the third period. Toronto will square off with Manitoba in the first round of the playoffs.

Manitoba halted a four-game winless skid (0-3-1-0) and ended the regular season with a 4-1 road win over Lake Erie before an AHL season-high crowd of 17,627 fans at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

It marked the second consecutive night that a new AHL single-game attendance high was established, following Friday’s crowd of 17,380 at the Wachovia Spectrum in Philadelphia.

Michael Grabner netted a pair of goals for the Moose, defenseman Nolan Baumgartner posted a goal and a helper, and defenseman Taylor Ellington scored in his professional debut for the Moose.

Guillaume Desbiens chipped in a pair of assists, and Manitoba goaltender Curtis Sanford earned the win with 25 saves on 26 shots.

The Moose concluded the regular season at 50-23-1-6 (107 points) and will open their North Division semifinal series against Toronto on Wednesday.

Albany scored three times in the first period and held on for a 3-2 win over visiting Binghamton at the Times Union Center.

Michael Kennedy scored his first professional goal for the River Rats, who also received markers from Mark Flood and captain Pat Dwyer.

Greg Mauldin netted a first-period goal for Binghamton, and after a scoreless middle period, Peter Regin brought the Sens within 3-2 at 1:36 of the third. But they could not find the equalizer and ended the season on a 5-7-0-1 slide.

Albany goaltenders Justin Peters and Daniel Manzato combined to stop 19 of 21 shots in the winning effort.

Syracuse doubled up intra-state rival Rochester by a 4-2 count on Saturday in both teams’ season finale before 6,106 fans at the Onondaga County War Memorial.

Tim Miller scored in his professional debut for the Crunch, while Michael Blunden, Derek MacKenzie, and Alexandre Picard also found the back of the net. Picard’s marker went into a vacated goal in the game’s closing minute.

Syracuse goaltender Dan LaCosta earned the victory with 23 saves on 25 shots.

Rookies Jason Garrison and Michal Repik netted goals for the Americans.

Peoria parlayed a three-goal third period into a 5-2 win over visiting Grand Rapids on Saturday at Carver Arena.

Yan Stastny scored twice for the Rivermen – including a shorthanded tally in the third frame – and Steve Regier put up a game-high three points (1-2-3) in the victory.

Defenseman Jonas Junland added a goal and a helper, Aaron Palushaj also scored, and defenseman Jim Jackson chipped in a pair of assists.

Rivermen goaltender Manny Legace earned the win with 32 saves on 34 shots.

Francis Pare and AHL All-Rookie forward Justin Abdelkader netted goals for the Griffins, who will square off with Hamilton in the North Division semifinals.

Chicago racked up four goals in the first period en route to a 5-2 win over Rockford in its season finale before a crowd of 16,019 fans at Allstate Arena on Saturday.

Chad Denny, Grant Stevenson, Joe Motzko, and Steve Martins all registered a goal and an assist for the Wolves, and Brett Sterling chipped in three assists.

Wolves goaltender Brent Krahn earned the win with 33 saves, finishing the year at 6-6-0 in 13 appearances for Chicago.

Akim Aliu netted both goals for the IceHogs in the losing effort. Rockford will play either Milwaukee or Peoria in the first round of the playoffs, depending on how Houston fares in its season finale vs. San Antonio on Sunday.

San Antonio scored four unanswered goals to double up Houston by a 4-2 count in front of 8,265 fans at the AT&T Center on Saturday.

Wyatt Smith (1-2-3) and Kevin Porter (0-3-3) each had a game-high three points for the Rampage, who also received tallies from Simon Ferguson, Chad Kolarik, and defenseman Sean Sullivan.

San Antonio goaltender Josh Tordjman stopped 19 of 21 shots to finish the campaign at 25-21-2. The Rampage take a six-game winning streak into its season finale at Houston on Sunday. The Rampage have captured 10 of their last 11 contests (10-1-0-0).

Maxim Noreau and John Lammers initially gave the Aeros a 2-0 lead by the 3:39 mark of the second period.

Houston remains one point back of Rockford for third place in the West Division heading into its season finale on Sunday, also vs. San Antonio. The third-place team draws Peoria in the first round of the playoffs, while the fourth-place squad will square off with Milwaukee.

Kris Chucko (2-1-3), Carsen Germyn (1-2-3), and Kyle Greentree (0-3-3) all put up three points as Quad City ended its season with a 5-2 road win over Iowa at Wells Fargo Arena.

Cam Cunning and John Vigilante also scored for the Flames, who finished the campaign as winners of three straight and eight of their last 10 games (8-1-0-1).

Quad City goaltender Matt Keetley secured the victory with 22 saves on 25 shots.

MacGregor Sharp netted his first professional goal for the Chops, while Petri Kontiola and Eric Boguniecki also scored in the loss.