The Utica Comets (47-20-7-2) clinched the Western Conference championship with a 3-2 victory over the Adirondack Flames on Saturday night at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
With securing the Western Conference’s top seed, the Comets will play the to-be-determined eighth-seeded team in the first round of the playoffs, and are now guaranteed home ice advantage until the Calder Cup Finals.
The 2014-15 American Hockey League regular season concludes on Sunday, April 19th, and all playoff dates will be announced soon after.
Darren Archibald (1-0-1), Adam Clendending (1-0-1), and Alex Friesen (1-0-1) did all the scoring for the Comets. Jacob Markstrom made 39 saves and kept his perfect 8-0-0-0 record against the Flames.
The Comets struck first 15:52 into the game. After taking a breakout pass from Frank Corrado, Nicklas Jensen let loose a wrist shot that Archibald deflected past Ortio for his 14th goal of the season.
The Comets doubled up their lead in the second period. Clendening scored his first goal as a member of the Comets after tapping home a pass from Cal O’Reilly. Hunter Shinkaruk picked up the secondary assist.
The Comets put the final nail in the coffin with a goal halfway through the third period. Sven Baertschi put a shot on net that Joni Ortio turned aside. The rebound bounced to the slot creating a frenzy. Friesen dug out the puck out and slammed it home for the 3-0 lead.
Adirondack added two goals with less than two minutes to, both on the power play to cut the final score to 3-2.
Eight teams in each conference qualify for the Calder Cup playoffs, with the three division winners in each conference seeded first through third by order of regular season points. The next five teams, in order of regular season points, will be seeded fourth through eight. Home ice advantage is given to the higher seeded team in each playoff match-up.
The Conference Quarterfinal (the first round) is a best-of-five series. Home ice advantage in the Conference Quarterfinals is granted to those teams seeded first through fourth in each conference.
The Conference Semifinals, and the Conference Finals are a best-of-seven series. Teams are reseeded according to the same criteria as the Conference Quarterfinals, with division leaders seeded first, and granted home ice advantage, while remaining teams will be seeded in order of regular season points.
The Calder Cup Finals are also a best-of-seven series, with home ice determined by the higher number of points in the final standings at the end of the Schedule of Championship Games.