Penguins, Pirates clinch division crowns

Two franchises made history on Friday night when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Portland Pirates both secured their first-ever division titles.

Wilkes-Barre wrapped up the East Division crown with a 5-4 win over Norfolk, while Portland clinched the Atlantic Division with a 5-3 victory in Hartford.

The Pirates, in their 13th season, and the Penguins, now in their seventh, have reached two Calder Cup Finals each (Portland won in 1994), but neither had ever finished first in their division.

Matt Hussey had a goal and an assist for Wilkes-Barre on Friday night as the Penguins withstood a late rally and four power-play goals by Norfolk to improve to 48-18-5-5 with four games remaining.

Krys Kolanos scored for the Pens, giving him 15 points (9g, 6a) in 14 games with Wilkes-Barre.

In Hartford, Geoff Peters, J.B. Bittner and Zenon Konopka each had a goal and an assists in Portland’s win. The Pirates’ 25th victory away from home this season leaves them one shy of the AHL record with two road games remaining.

Portland (49-18-5-3) is tied with Wilkes-Barre atop the Eastern Conference at 106 points with one game in hand.

Elsewhere on Friday:

  • Brian Fahey‘s goal 3:43 into overtime gave Iowa a 3-2 win in Omaha and extended the Stars’ winning streak to seven games
  • Chicago recorded its ninth win in a row, getting 28 saves from Michael Garnett in a 3-2 victory over Peoria to stay three points behind fourth-place Iowa in the West Division
  • Hershey rallied to tie in the final minute of regulation, but David Printz scored 28 seconds into overtime to give Philadelphia a 5-4 win over the Bears
  • Kelly Guard made 23 saves for his fifth shutout of the season as Binghamton kept its playoff hopes alive with a 4-0 win over Bridgeport
  • Pascal Pelletier scored with 3:09 remaining in regulation to give Providence a 3-2 win over Albany in a game that featured exactly one penalty — a too-many-men bench minor against the River Rats 1:16 in
  • Tyler Kolarik scored twice and Ben Simon had three assists as Syracuse took a wild 5-2 decision from Hamilton
  • Jason Jaspers and David Spina each scored two goals in Springfield’s 7-4 win over Manchester
  • Ryan Bayda recorded a goal and an assist as Manitoba defeated Rochester, 3-1