Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Phantoms shift divisions as AHL realigns for next season

The American Hockey League will return to a four-division alignment for the 2015-16 season, but the Lehigh Valley Phantoms aren't going to be disrupted in the change.

On Tuesday, the league announced the new geographic breakdown, and the second year of the third iteration of the Phantoms franchise will remain tight with some natural rivals.

Last year, upon a move from Glens Falls, NY to Allentown, PA, the franchise was placed in the East Division of the Eastern Conference along with Hershey, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Binghamton and Norfolk.

The first three clubs remain to comprise the new eight-team Atlantic Division along with the Phantoms. Added to the mix are Bridgeport, Hartford, Portland, Providence and Springfield. Providence and Portland arrive from the former Atlantic Division, while Hartford, Springfield and Bridgeport had participated in the now defunct Northeast Division.

Five franchises announced a move westward to facilitate the new breakdown: Manchester, NH to Ontario, CA (Los Angeles Kings); Glens Falls, NY to Stockton, CA (Calgary); Worcester, MA to San Jose, CA (San Jose); Norfolk, VA to San Diego, CA (Anaheim) and Oklahoma City, OK to Bakersfield, CA (Edmonton).

The AHL master schedule won't be released until later in the season.

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