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Phantoms win Eastern Conference crown

Jeff Carter had a goal and two assists as the Philadelphia Phantoms won the AHL’s 2005 Eastern Conference championship with a 4-1 win over the Providence Bruins in front of 8,251 fans at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia on Sunday night.

The Phantoms have won the Richard F. Canning Trophy and secured a berth in the 2005 Calder Cup Finals, where they will face the Western Conference champion Chicago Wolves beginning Thursday night.

Ryan Ready, Jon Sim and Patrick Sharp also scored for Philadelphia, which bounced back from Friday’s 6-4 loss to shut down Providence in Game 6.

Antero Niittymaki made 19 saves in the win. He allowed five goals on 24 shots in Game 5, but stopped 144 of 150 shots over the rest of the series.

Carter, a 20-year-old star in the making and one of the front-runners for the Jack Butterfield Trophy as the MVP of the Calder Cup Playoffs, leads the AHL with 12 postseason goals and is tops on the team with 19 points in 17 playoff contests. He was a first-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

The Phantoms, top affiliate of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers, are returning to the Calder Cup Finals for the first time since 1998, when they won the franchise’s only championship. Under head coach John Stevens, Philadelphia finished second in the East Division with a record of 48-25-3-4, including an AHL-record 17-game winning streak early in the season. The Phantoms defeated Norfolk (4-2) in the division semifinals, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (4-1) in the division final and Providence (4-2) in the conference final.

Established in 1990, the AHL’s Eastern Conference championship trophy honors Richard F. Canning, who served the AHL for more than 50 years during his career, including a term as league president from 1958-61. Mr. Canning is recognized as the author of the AHL’s constitution, by-laws and regulations.

2005 Calder Cup Finals — Series “O” (best-of-7)
W1-Chicago Wolves vs. E2-Philadelphia Phantoms

Game 1 – Thu., June 2 – Philadelphia at Chicago, 8:00
Game 2 – Sat., June 4 – Philadelphia at Chicago, 8:00
Game 3 – Wed., June 8 – Chicago at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
Game 4 – Fri., June 10 – Chicago at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
*Game 5 – Sat., June 11 – Chicago at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
*Game 6 – Mon., June 13 – Philadelphia at Chicago, 8:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 15 – Philadelphia at Chicago, 8:00

*if necessary… All times Eastern
(WC) at Wachovia Center