Griffins win 11th straight, wrap up twin titles

Bryan Helmer scored with 1:23 left in overtime as Grand Rapids clinched the North Division title with a thrilling 5-4 win in Manitoba on Friday night.

The victory, the Griffins’ 11th in a row, also gave Grand Rapids the regular-season Western Conference title.

At 53-16-1-4, the Griffins need four wins in their final six games to tie the AHL record for victories in a season.

Grand Rapids got two third-period goals from Eric Manlow to take a 4-3 lead, but the Moose tied things up on Jason Jaffray‘s goal with just 33 seconds left in regulation.

Helmer’s winning goal came just seconds after he was denied on a breakaway by Maxime Ouellet.

Jimmy Howard made 28 saves to run his personal winning streak to 12 games.

Brandon Nolan led the Moose with a goal and two assists.

Elsewhere on Friday:

  • Dustin Penner picked up a goal and two assists as Portland tied Wilkes-Barre/Scranton atop the Eastern Conference standings with 100 points following a 4-2 win over Providence… Even with the loss, the Bruins clinched the fourth and final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division
  • 18-year-old Ryan O’Marra scored twice in his professional debut for Bridgeport, but Brent Kelly responded with two goals and an assist as Philadelphia defeated the Sound Tigers, 4-2
  • Kelly Guard made 17 of his 27 saves in the third period for his fourth shutout of the season, helping Binghamton to a 2-0 win over visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
  • Warren Peters scored with 1:52 left in regulation and Mark Giordano followed 63 seconds into overtime as Omaha stunned Houston, 2-1, extending the Aeros’ winless slide to eight games (0-5-2-1)
  • Chris Taylor and Michael Ryan each recorded hat tricks and Clarke MacArthur tallied four assists as Rochester routed Syracuse, 9-4
  • Dwight Helminen scored three goals and Nigel Dawes added a goal and three assists as Hartford dumped Springfield, 9-3
  • Quintin Laing had a goal and an assist for Norfolk in a 4-1 victory at Albany
  • Tomas Fleischmann recorded two goals and an assist to lead Hershey to a 7-2 win over Lowell, moving the Bears to within two points of first place in the East Division
  • Alexandre Daigle scored two goals and assisted on two others as Manchester rolled past Toronto, 6-1, ending the Marlies’ seven-game points streak (5-0-2-0)
  • Michael Garnett stopped 25 shots to backstop Chicago to its sixth win in a row, 3-1 at Hamilton
  • Peoria won its fourth in a row, getting goals from D.J. King and Mike Zigomanis in a 2-1 victory at San Antonio
  • Junior Lessard scored the tying goal in the third period and the winning goal in the shootout as Iowa got past Milwaukee, 3-2