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The American Hockey League has released its new division and conference alignment for the 2011-12 season, as well as the 2012 Calder Cup Playoff format, it was announced today by league President and CEO David Andrews. The league’s Eastern and Western Conferences will now have three divisions, with five teams comprising each division. The 2011 regular-season champion Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will remain in the East Division of the Eastern Conference. Vacating the East Division will be the Adirondack Phantoms and Albany Devils, who will move to the new Northeast Division, while the Charlotte Checkers will migrate to the Western Conference’s new Midwest Division. The Penguins will renew division rivalries with the defending Calder Cup Champion Binghamton Senators, Hershey Bears, Norfolk Admirals, and Syracuse Crunch. The American Hockey League also returns to St. John’s, Newfoundland, beginning next season. The new affiliate of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets will take up residence in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division. The league’s Board of Governors has approved the following conference and division alignment for 2011-12, with 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. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will begin its 13th season this fall at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Full and partial season ticket plans are on sale now by contacting the Penguins ticket offices at (570) 208-PENS.

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