Penguins, Griffins, Checkers all clinch

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Grand Rapids Griffins and Charlotte Checkers all joined the postseason party on Saturday night, clinching berths in the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs.

The Penguins secured a playoff berth for the 11th consecutive season, getting there with a 3-0 win over St. John’s at Mile One Centre.

Wilkes-Barre’s streak is the longest active run in the AHL. The Milwaukee Admirals are looking for their 11th straight trip to the playoffs this season as well. The Pens have now qualified for the playoffs in 12 of their 14 seasons since joining the AHL in 1999. Wilkes-Barre, which has also won at least 40 games eight years in a row, reached the Calder Cup Finals in 2001, 2004 and 2008.

With the Penguins in, three playoff spots remain in the Eastern Conference and six teams remain mathematically in contention.

In the Western Conference, Grand Rapids and Charlotte both lost their games in extra time on Saturday — the Griffins falling to Peoria in overtime and the Checkers dropping a shootout decision to Chicago — but both clinched playoff berths with Milwaukee’s 3-1 loss to Rockford later in the evening.

For the Griffins, they return to the Calder Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009, making their seventh trip in 12 AHL seasons overall. Grand Rapids’ best playoff showing came in 2003 and 2006, when they lost in the conference finals.

Charlotte qualifies for the postseason for the second time in three seasons since joining the AHL. The Checkers went all the way to the conference finals in 2011 before losing to eventual Calder Cup champion Binghamton, then barely missed out on the playoffs last year in their first season in the Western Conference.

Six teams remain in the hunt for the final four playoff spots in the West.