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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – With North Division and Western Conference trophies already in their case, the Grand Rapids Griffins completed their collection of regular season hardware on Friday at Van Andel Arena. The Griffins’ 4-2 victory over the San Antonio Rampage in the season’s penultimate game clinched their first Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as AHL regular season champions and gave them a franchise-record 115 points and 55 wins, the third-most in league history.

Combined with the Detroit Red Wings’ capture of the Presidents’ Trophy on Tuesday, the Griffins and Red Wings have become the first AHL/NHL affiliates in 29 years to capture their respective regular season championships. The feat was last accomplished in 1976-77 by the Montreal Canadiens and Nova Scotia Voyageurs.

Grand Rapids (55-19-1-4) will wrap-up the most successful regular season in its 10 seasons of play on Saturday by hosting the Milwaukee Admirals in a 7 p.m. start at Van Andel Arena.

A capacity crowd of 10,834 – the Griffins’ ninth sellout of the season – had yet to settle in when Grand Rapids jumped on top. Just 22 seconds into the contest, Tomas Kopecky’s shot from the left side managed to thread through traffic and slide inside the right post past an unsuspecting Karl Goehring. Kopecky helped increase the advantage later in frame, when he spotted Kyle Quincey darting toward the net and hit him in stride with a pass for a tap-in from the doorstep at the 15:42 mark.

The disparity between the AHL’s highest- and lowest-scoring teams grew larger during a power play 3:23 into the second period. Bryan Helmer fired a shot from 50 feet that Goehring got a piece of, but the puck trickled across the goal line to make it a 3-0 cushion.

The Rampage (22-49-3-4) ended Jimmy Howard’s shutout bid and made a game of it with goals at 7:12 and 12:22 of the final period, with Matt Jones and Mike Bishai doing the honors. Howard, who finished with 26 saves, responded by shutting the door the rest of the way for his ninth straight win on home ice, tying Mathieu Chouinard’s team record. Kopecky punched his second of the game into an empty net at 18:57 for the final margin.

Three regulars were absent from the Griffins’ lineup tonight. Newly crowned AHL most valuable player Donald MacLean remains with the Red Wings, captain Matt Ellis missed a third straight game due to injury, and Darryl Bootland served a one-game AHL suspension. Still, Grand Rapids was able to reach 30 home wins, one shy of the franchise record, for just the second time ever.


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