For the first time since 2013, there will be playoff hockey in North Carolina this spring.
The Charlotte Checkers’ overtime loss to Chicago on Saturday earned them the point they needed to qualify for the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. Charlotte will open their first-round series, again facing Chicago, at home Thursday and Friday where they are 27-10-1, fourth-best in the league.
Book those hotel rooms and fill up the gas tank, because it’s playoff time in the Queen City. -BL
Here’s the recap of last night’s game:
The Charlotte Checkers are headed to the 2017 Calder Cup playoffs. Charlotte needed at least a point and got just that as they lost 4-3 in overtime to the Chicago Wolves. It wasn’t pretty, but the Checkers clinched a postseason berth for the first time in four years.
Charlotte burst out to an early two-goal lead in the first period thanks to former Hurricane Patrick Dwyer and defenseman Jake Chelios. Wade Megan would strike for the Wolves later in the period to cut the lead in half.
Charlotte remained hungry in the second period, out battling the Wolves but ran into a brick wall in Chicago goalie Jordan Binnington who stopped all ten shots he faced in the period. Charlotte did a great job of shot suppression and cutting off passing lanes. The Checkers only allowed four shots in the period.
The Checkers lead was extended to two goals in the early part of the third period as Phil Di Giuseppe would score his 12th to pad the lead. The Wolves battled back, however, striking twice within two minutes later in the period to tie the game. Charlotte held on with the help of goalie Tom McCollum but it would be the Wolves’ Andrew Aggozino who scored in overtime to give Chicago the win.
This game was a warm-up for the main event as the two teams will face each other in the first round of the playoffs. The Checkers will host the first two games of the best of five series with the remaining three games being hosted in Chicago. Game 1 is Thursday night at 7 p.m.
Charlotte clinching a playoff berth is an admirable feat given the first half of the season they had. The Checkers, despite their youth, showed great composure down the stretch when the season was on the line. Despite stumbling to the finish line, the Checkers are in the playoffs for the third time in franchise history and now, it’s anyone’s game. -JL