Good news, Crunch fans: the Syracuse Crunch is staying in the East, which means they’ll be in familiar territory as they look to break into the playoffs next season for the second year in a row.
The AHL released the league’s alignment and playoff format for the upcoming season, and here in Crunch Land, basically nothing has changed. The Crunch remains in the AHL’s East Division, along with foes Binghamton, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Norfolk, and Hershey. In fact, the AHL left the entire Eastern Conference alone, which is probably leaving fans in Utica not used to AHL geography scratching their heads.
The newly-minted Utica Comets enter their first year in the league in the AHL’s Western Conference. They’ll be in the North Division with Rochester, Hamilton, Toronto, and Lake Erie. So, basically, they’re in our old division exactly, except they’re us instead of us being us.
Other changes in the league include Abbotsford moving to the “renamed” West Division (it used to be the South Division) and the Iowa Wild being placed in the Midwest Division.
No changes were announced in the AHL’s playoff format. The top 8 teams from each conference get into the Calder Cup playoffs, while the top teams from each division in each conference get top billing by points. The first round will remain a best of 5 while the following rounds will all be best of 7.