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The American Hockey League realigns into four divisions

The American Hockey League’s Board of Governors approved a motion Tuesday to change from a six-division to a four-division format for the 2015-16 season.

The Chicago Wolves will be a part of the eight-team Central Division along with the Charlotte Checkers, Grand Rapids Griffins, Iowa Wild, Lake Erie Monsters, Manitoba Moose, Milwaukee Admirals, and the Rockford IceHogs. The Central Division and the seven-team Pacific Division will comprise the Western Conference.

During the 2014-15 season, the Wolves competed in the Midwest Division with Grand Rapids, Lake Erie, Milwaukee and Rockford. Manitoba, which played in the Eastern Conference as the St. John’s IceCaps for the last four years, is the top affiliate for the Winnipeg Jets and will share a building with the parent club. Charlotte and Iowa hail from the old West Division.

The Pacific Division will feature the five new teams in California (Bakersfield Condors, Ontario Reign, San Diego Gulls, San Jose Barracuda, and the Stockton Heat) along with the San Antonio Rampage and Texas Stars.

To offset the franchises moving from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference, the Rochester Americans, Toronto Marlies, and Utica Comets are shifting from the West to the East. In addition, the Hamilton Bulldogs are moving to St. John’s, Newfoundland, and setting up in the Eastern Conference.

Rochester, St. John’s, Toronto, and Utica join Albany, Binghamton and Syracuse to form the North Division. Bridgeport, Hartford, Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Portland, Providence, Springfield and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton comprise the Atlantic Division.

The AHL will unveil the format for the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs following its meeting July 6-9 in Hilton Head Island, S.C.