TOLEDO, OH—The Charlotte Checkers scored five unanswered goals in the second half of the game to down Toledo, 6-1, and even the quarterfinal series at 1-1 on Wednesday evening.
Ryan Munce, who today was named ECHL Goaltender of the Month for March, stopped 28 of 29 shots while Mike Taylor notched two goals. Daniel Tkaczuk was activated off playoff reserve earlier in the day and scored the game winner.
The win gives Charlotte a split on the road and they will now return home for the next two and, if necessary, three games in the best-of-five series.
The Checkers opened the scoring just 24 seconds into the game when Steve Ward held the puck in at the blueline and fed Andrew Carroll in the slot. Carroll made no mistake and beat Toledo goaltender Jordan Pearce with a wrist shot for his second goal of the series.
The Walleye responded with a goal of their own, eight minutes later, when Adam Keefe stuffed home the rebound from a point shot for his fourth of the series. Keefe has now doubled his offensive output for the entire season in just two playoff games.
Just minutes later, Toledo forward Chris Robertson skated in on a breakaway but Munce was there to shut the door and keep the score knotted at 1-1.
Early in the second, Aaron Slattengren tried his best to break the tie but was stopped by Pearce on a breakaway.
Then, with less than four minutes to play in the second, Tkaczuk broke down the left wing boards and let a shot go from a sharp angle that trickled in between the legs of Pearce. The goal was assisted by Slattengren and Randy Rowe and came at the 16:38 mark of the second period.
The Checkers were outshot 21-16 in the first 40 minutes but held a 2-1 lead going into the third period.
Nine minutes into the third and final frame, Charlotte took a two-goal lead on a somewhat fluky goal by Kenny Roche. Roche let a shot go that deflected off Pearce and sailed up into the air and defenseman Sebastien Piche accidentally gloved it into his own net.
Taylor would make it a 4-1 game, with less than six minutes to play, when he took a nice pass off the wall from Slattengren, broke in alone and let go a backhand shot on the short side that found the back of the net.
The Checkers continued the onslaught just 24 seconds later as Trevor Hendrikx one-timed a pass from Roche off the post and in.
Taylor then added his second of the game with less than 90 seconds to play as Charlotte walked away with a 6-1 victory and evened the American Conference quarterfinal series at 1-1. The two teams will meet again Friday in Charlotte for game 3.
Charlotte (1-1) will host Toledo for game 3 on Friday (7 p.m.) and game 4 on Sunday (2 p.m.). Ticket information can be obtained by calling 704-342-4-ICE or visiting www.gocheckers.com/playoffs. Season tickets for the inaugural 2010-11 AHL season are now on sale and 40-game packages start as low as $200.
Notes: Charlotte clinched its first division title and #1 conference seed in franchise history heading into the playoffs...the Checkers had the four largest crowds in the ECHL this season…Mike Taylor leads the Checkers with three playoff goals while Adam Keefe leads the Walleye with four…Charlotte is 16-3-1 in its last 20 home games and 12-1-1 in the last 14 overall heading into the playoffs…Ryan Munce led the ECHL in save percentage (.913), was third in wins (26) and was named ECHL Goaltender of the Month for March…Andrew Carroll led the Checkers this season with 30 goals, including six game winners.
Charlotte Checkers 6 At Toledo Walleye 1 - Status: Final
Apr 7, 2010 - Lucas County Arena
Charlotte 1 1 4 - 6
Toledo 1 0 0 - 1
1st Period-1, Charlotte, Carroll 2 (Ward, Roche), 0:24. 2, Toledo, Keefe 4 (Danis-Pepin, Piche), 8:56. Penalties-Stefanishion Chr (high-sticking), 0:33; Leveille Chr (cross-checking), 11:07.
2nd Period-3, Charlotte, Tkaczuk 1 (Slattengren, Rowe), 16:38. Penalties-Stefanishion Chr (boarding), 3:30; Schaeffer Chr (interference), 6:46; Reynolds Chr (roughing), 12:24; Hedden Tol (tripping), 18:04.
3rd Period-4, Charlotte, Roche 1 (Reynolds), 8:59. 5, Charlotte, Taylor 2 (Slattengren), 14:45. 6, Charlotte, Hendrikx 1 (Roche, Bartlett), 15:09. 7, Charlotte, Taylor 3 (Leveille, Slattengren), 18:38. Penalties-Roche Chr (high-sticking), 0:58; Hendrikx Chr (kneeing), 18:56.
Shots on Goal-Charlotte 6-10-9-25. Toledo 9-12-8-29.
Power Play Opportunities-Charlotte 0 of 1; Toledo 0 of 7.
Goalies-Charlotte, Munce 1-1-0-0 (29 shots-28 saves). Toledo, Pearce 1-1-0-0 (25 shots-19 saves).
Referees-JM McNulty (21).
Linesmen-Ray King (39), Jim Scarpace (50).