Milwaukee takes Western Conference crown

Milwaukee needed just 21 seconds to offset a desperate Grand Rapids rally and capture the AHL’s Western Conference championship with a 5-4 victory at the Bradley Center on Wednesday night.

The Admirals are heading to the Calder Cup Finals for the second time in three years, and await the winner of next Tuesday’s Game 7 between Portland and Hershey.

Down 4-1, the Griffins scored three times in the final 9:06 of the second period to tie the score and keep their title hopes alive heading into the locker room.

But Darren Haydar scored his league-leading 14th goal of the postseason just 21 seconds into the third to put Milwaukee back on top, and the Admirals held on the rest of the way to earn their ninth straight win and complete their second straight sweep.

Haydar’s goal was Milwaukee’s seventh shorthanded tally of the postseason, setting an AHL record. He extended his scoring streak to 10 games (12g, 8a) with two points on the night.

Scottie Upshall had a goal and two assists for the Admirals, and Pekka Rinne made 23 saves to improve to 8-0 during the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Valtteri Filppula recorded two goals and an assist and Brett Lebda added a goal and two assists to lead the Griffins.

Grand Rapids won 55 games in the regular season and led the AHL with 115 points, but lost in the conference finals for the second time in four years. The Griffins became the first team since the 1985 Binghamton Whalers to be swept in a playoff round after finishing first overall in the regular season.

Western Conference Final — Series "N" (best-of-7)
N1-Grand Rapids Griffins vs. W1-Milwaukee Admirals
Game 1 – Thu., May 18 – Milwaukee 4, GRAND RAPIDS 0
Game 2 – Sat., May 20 – Milwaukee 2, GRAND RAPIDS 1
Game 3 – Mon., May 22 – MILWAUKEE 3, Grand Rapids 2
Game 4 – Wed., May 24 – MILWAUKEE 5, Grand Rapids 4