The Charlotte Checkers picked up right where they left off from their first round playoff series: winning. The Checkers are now on a four-game win streak after capturing Game 1 and 2 from the Hershey Bears. Charlotte continues to be dominant at Bojangles Coliseum, winning every game there so far in the playoffs. Through the course of their four-game win streak, Charlotte’s margin of victory has been at least three goals in each appearance.
In Game 1, Charlotte didn’t seem to mind much that starting goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic wasn’t present, but was instead in Raleigh backing up Curtis McElhinney. Dustin Tokarski put together a dominant performance, stopping 25 of 26 shots. He remained calm under pressure in the first period when the Bears pushed hard early and peppered Tokarski with 12 shots and allowing just one to squeak in late in the first. Fortunately, Tokarski received support from the Checkers well-rounded offense with an outburst of four goals in the first period.
Julien Gauthier scored his second of the playoffs less than two minutes into the game to set the tone for the series. Derek Sheppard, Aleksi Saarela and Stelio Mattheos each scored their first goal of the playoffs in consecutive order to give the Checkers a 4-0 lead. The Checkers special teams struggled, going 0-for-5 on the power play, but it wasn’t much needed as they took home the 4-1 win.
In Game 2, Charlotte showed no signs of slowing down, taking a 2-0 series lead after beating Hershey 7-3. Nedeljkovic returned for the Checkers but it was an outstanding performance by the offense that stole the show. Martin Necas welcomed himself to the playoffs with a power-play goal in the second period that gave the Checkers a 2-1 lead. Morgan Geekie helped extend the Checkers lead with his fifth of the postseason, which ranks him 5th in the AHL.
Tomas Jurco and Julien Gauthier took over early in the third with Jurco potting a pair and Gauthier scoring his third of the postseason. Necas added another for good measure late in the third.
The Checkers and Bears face off tonight for Game 3 followed by a Game 4 match-up on Wednesday. If necessary, Game 5 would take place on Friday and Games 6 and 7 in Charlotte would be played on Sunday and Tuesday.