Call him Clutch Connor. Connor Brickley potted the game-winning goal in overtime to give the Charlotte Checkers a 4-3 win over the Chicago Wolves. Charlotte now holds a 2-1 series lead in the best of five Central Division semifinals series.
Brickley has been a constant force for the Checkers throughout the season as a reliable source for heroics. During a stretch of games in March, Brickley scored game-winning goals in three straight games including an overtime winner against the Ontario Reign and finished the season with a team-high six game-winning goals.
Despite Brickley’s overtime winner, Sunday’s game was a team effort for the Charlotte as eight Checkers factored into the score sheet. Charlotte were the first to strike in the game as Philip Samuelsson released a hard shot from the point that sneaked through Wolves goalie Ville Husso’s blocker side. Andrew Miller doubled the Checkers’ lead to 2-0 with around a minute to go in the first period after he fired a wrist shot past Husso’s blocker side.
The Wolves wouldn’t lay down and quickly responded just minutes into the second period. AHL Most Valuable Player Kenny Agostino scored his first goal of the series to cut the Checkers lead in half. Then, Adam Musil, the Wolves’ hero in Game 2, tied the game at 2 less than two minutes after Agostino got the Wolves on the board.
Checkers captain Patrick Brown gave the Checkers the 3-2 lead just minutes into the third period, but Ty Loney tied the game at three with a snap shot from the left circle. The game then turned to a battle of the net-minders down the stretch. Checkers goalie Tom McCollum stopped 12 of 13 shots in the period and finished the game with 38 saves. With the game tied, the two teams headed into overtime where Brickley scored on a rebound off a shot by Roland McKeown to give the Checkers control of the series.
The Checkers have the opportunity to close out the series against the Wolves on Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Allstate Arena.