The Charlotte Checkers must have needed to do a bit of spring cleaning as they brought out the brooms to complete the sweep of the Hershey Bears in the second round of the playoffs.
After taking a 2-0 series lead on the road to Hershey, the Checkers didn’t allow any chance for the Bears to get back into the series. In Game 3, Hershey tried to set the tone with a late first period goal to establish a home-ice presence. After that, it seemed as if a flip was switched for the Checkers. Charlotte allowed just two shots in the second period while getting on the board with an Aleksi Saarela tally. Stelio Mattheos played hero late in the third with the game-winning goal with around two minutes to go. Andrew Poturalski added an empty net goal for good measure to secure a 3-1 victory to give the Checkers a commanding 3-0 series lead. Alex Nedeljkovic led the way in net with 17 saves.
In Game 4, the Checkers wrapped up the series with an impressive offensive display. Saarela put the Checkers on the board first with his fourth goal of the postseason. Both teams struggled to get pucks on net in the first period but a second period outburst by Charlotte put them over the edge. The Checkers outshot the Bears 13-5 in the second and scored a pair of goals thanks to Julien Gauthier and Saarela’s second of the game. After the Checkers burst out to a 4-0 lead early in the third period, the Bears began one last push, getting a pair of goals to cut the lead in half. However, it would fall short and the Checkers now advance to round three versus the Toronto Marlies.
The Marlies are the defending Calder Cup champions after defeating the Texas Stars in 7 games last season. Toronto poses the biggest threat to the Checkers so far, bringing a mix of size, speed and skill. Charlotte went 0-1-2 against Toronto in the regular season. Both teams match up well with Charlotte holding the slight goaltending advantage. Charlotte will have to dig deep one more time before they can reach the Calder Cup final.
The schedule for round three is below:
- Game 1 - Bojangles Coliseum - Friday, May 17th - 7 p.m.
- Game 2 - Bojangles Coliseum - Saturday, May 18th - 6 p.m.
- Game 3 - Coca-Cola Coliseum - Tuesday, May 21st - 7 p.m.
- Game 4 - Coca-Cola Coliseum - Thursday, May 23rd - 7 p.m.
- Game 5 - Coca-Cola Coliseum - Friday, May 24th - 7 p.m.
- Game 6 - Bojangles Coliseum - Sunday, May 26th - 7 p.m.
- Game 7 - Bojangles Coliseum - Tuesday, May 28th - 7 p.m.