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Recap: Charlotte Checkers drop Game 4 5-1, Chicago Wolves force decisive Game 5

The Checkers have been playing win-or-else hockey for two months. They now have one more in that category to play on Wednesday.

Jamie Kellner

You wanted drama, you got it. The Charlotte Checkers and Chicago Wolves will go to a winner take all Game 5 Wednesday at Allstate Arena after Chicago topped Charlotte 5-1 on Tuesday night to tie the series at two games apiece.

Lucas Wallmark got the scoring started early with a tip in front of Wolves goalie Ville Husso 1:51 into the first period. Checkers defenseman Trevor Carrick released a shot from the point and Wallmark was able to get a stick on it to continue his hot postseason, now with three goals in four games and a league-leading six points in the playoffs.

Ten minutes later, Samuel Blais was able to capitalize on a turnover by Charlotte and tie the game at one, on assists by Andrew Agozzino and Kenny Agostino (say that ten times fast). That’s where the score stayed heading into the first intermission.

The second period was tightly played and a bit feisty, with three roughing penalties, two of which were assessed to the Checkers. Charlotte couldn’t convert on a 4-on-3 that lasted for 1:20, and the Wolves outshot the Checkers 12-11 with both goalies standing tall and allowing nothing past them.

Early in the third period, Jake Walman released a wrist shot from the point that beat Checkers goalie Tom McCollum glove side to give the Wolves the lead at 1:58. The goal was Walman’s first career postseason goal and it opened the flood gates for Chicago. Jordan Schmaltz then doubled the Wolves’ lead two minutes later with a shot from a tough angle that beat McCollum glove side, on a shot that bounced off the goaltender’s glove and right into the net.

With the game on the line late in the third period, the Checkers opted to pull McCollum with 3:22 to go. Erstwhile Hurricane Ty Rattie put the dagger into the Checkers’ hopes as he found the empty net with 2:41 remaining to give the Wolves a three goal lead. Rattie would add insult to injury with a power play goal at 19:03, his third point of the night securing a commanding win for the Wolves heading into a decisive final game.

The Checkers are now 2-4 all-time with a chance to clinch a series win, and Tuesday’s game was the first of the series in which the team scoring the opening goal didn’t win the game. The Checkers and Wolves will face off for the final time Wednesday night with the season on the line beginning at 8:00 p.m.