Darren Haydar scored two goals and added two assists as the Milwaukee Admirals registered a 5-3 victory in Grand Rapids on Saturday night and captured their second West Division title in three years.
The Admirals will face Iowa in the first round of the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs, beginning Friday night at the Bradley Center.
Milwaukee had to wait nearly two hours to officially clinch the division championship, wrapping up the crown when Houston’s furious comeback from a five-goal deficit fell short in Chicago.
Milwaukee spotted the Griffins an early 2-0 lead before storming back. Haydar broke a 3-3 tie with 8:27 left in regulation, then capped the scoring with an empty-netter for insurance.
Haydar finishes the regular season with 92 points (35g, 57a) in 80 games, currently good for fourth in the league in scoring.
Simon Gamache finished with a goal and an assist for Milwaukee, which won the West in 2004 en route to the Calder Cup championship.
Elsewhere on Saturday:
Scott Barney had two goals and an assist as Chicago raced out to a 5-0 lead and held on for a 6-5 win over Houston; the Aeros will meet Peoria in the first round, beginning Friday
Portland set an American Hockey League record with its 27th road win of the season, and secured the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a 6-4 victory in Springfield behind two goals each from Simon Ferguson and Maxim Kondratiev
Barry Brust made 41 saves as Manchester maintained its one-point lead for third place in the Atlantic Division with a 2-1 win in Lowell
Ben Walter scored twice and Eric Healey recorded three assists as Providence beat Albany, 4-2
AHL All-Rookie defenseman Mike Green picked up a goal and two assists as Hershey rolled past Binghamton, 8-3
Lee Goren and Jimmy Roy each tallied twice during a six-goal second period to pace Manitoba past Cleveland, 8-1
Brent Kelly recorded a hat trick for Philadelphia, but Krys Kolanos scored 3:04 into overtime to give Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a 4-3 win over the Phantoms
David Liffiton registered a goal and an assist as Hartford handled Bridgeport, 5-1
Loui Eriksson scored twice in Iowa’s 5-1 win over Peoria
Led by captain Chris Taylor with a goal and two assists, Rochester closed out its 50th-anniversary season with a 5-4 win over Syracuse
Andrei Kostitsyn notched a goal and two assists for Hamilton in a 6-5 win over Toronto
Randall Gelech had a goal and an assist to help San Antonio to a 3-1 victory over Omaha