Charlotte Checkers Moved to Western Conference in AHL

The American Hockey League made it official today, the Charlotte Checkers will be a part of the Western Conference next season.  The Checkers will join Chicago, Milwaukee, Peoria, and Rockford in the Midwest Division. 

The top eight teams in each conference will qualify for the playoffs.  The official press release follows after the jump:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 5, 2011


AHL ANNOUNCES DIVISION ALIGNMENT, PLAYOFF FORMAT FOR 2011-12
Top 8 in each conference will qualify for 2012 playoffs



SPRINGFIELD, Mass.
… American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced that the league’s Board of Governors, convening this week for its Annual Meeting in Hilton Head Island, S.C., has approved the following division alignment for the 2011-12 AHL season (NHL affiliates in parentheses):

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division
Manchester Monarchs (LA)
Portland Pirates (PHX)
Providence Bruins (BOS)
St. John’s (WPG)
Worcester Sharks (SJ)

Northeast Division
Adirondack Phantoms (PHI)
Albany Devils (NJ)
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI)
Connecticut Whale (NYR)
Springfield Falcons (CBJ)

East Division
Binghamton Senators (OTT)
Hershey Bears (WSH)
Norfolk Admirals (TB)
Syracuse Crunch (ANA)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT)

Western Conference
North Division
Grand Rapids Griffins (DET)
Hamilton Bulldogs (MTL)
Lake Erie Monsters (COL)
Rochester Americans (BUF)
Toronto Marlies (TOR)

Midwest Division
Charlotte Checkers (CAR)
Chicago Wolves (VAN)
Milwaukee Admirals (NSH)
Peoria Rivermen (STL)
Rockford IceHogs (CHI)

West Division
Abbotsford Heat (CGY)
Houston Aeros (MIN)
Oklahoma City Barons (EDM)
San Antonio Rampage (FLA)
Texas Stars (DAL)

The format for the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs was also approved by the Board of Governors. Eight teams in each conference will qualify for the postseason, with the three division winners earning the top three seeds and the next five best teams in order of regular-season points seeded fourth through eighth.

The conference quarterfinals will be best-of-five series; the conference semifinals, conference finals and Calder Cup Finals will be best-of-seven series. Teams will be re-ordered after the first round so that the highest-remaining seed plays the lowest-remaining seed.

The regular-season schedule format is still to be determined, and the complete playing schedule for the 2011-12 regular season, which begins Oct. 7, will be announced later this summer.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 87 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the 10th year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2010-11.

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