CHARLOTTE, NC—The Charlotte Checkers fell behind early but battled back with three straight goals to down the Toledo Walleye, 3-1, in game 3 of the American Conference Quarterfinals on Friday evening.
Charlotte takes a 2-1 series lead and is now one win away from advancing to the conference semifinals for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
Ryan Munce stopped 25 of 26 shots and was named the game’s first star while David Marshall, Daniel Tkaczuk and Michel Leveille scored for the Checkers.
Toledo had the game’s first quality scoring chance when forward Tony Romano found the back of the net, however the goal was disallowed due to a Walleye player standing in the crease.
Just minutes later, Walleye defenseman Joe Charlebois launched a 50-foot pass to Derek Nesbitt for a breakaway. Nesbitt made no mistake as he beat Munce low on the blocker side for the early 1-0 lead.
Mike Taylor nearly tied the game when he blasted a one-timer from the left side but Toledo goaltender Jordan Pearce slid across and denied the Charlotte forward with the right pad.
The Checkers mustered plenty of scoring chances in the first but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Less than two minutes into the second period, Charlotte got on the board on the power play. David Urquhart skated in from the point and took a whack at the puck and Marshall was there to chip the rebound in off the far post.
Midway through the period, the Checkers appeared to take their first lead of the game but referee Steve Patafie waved it off ruling that the Toledo netminder was interfered with.
Charlotte made good however, minutes later, when Tkaczuk notched his second goal of the postseason. Tkaczuk and Randy Rowe broke in on a 3-on-2 with Tyler Doig who saucered the puck past the Walleye defensemen. Rowe dove for the puck and it made its way back to Tkaczuk who fired it home between the legs of Pearce.
The Checkers held a 26-15 shot advantage after 40 minutes and a 2-1 lead on the scoreboard.
Charlotte then took a two-goal lead at the 6:37 mark of the third period on a goal by Leveille. The Checkers captain picked up the puck which was dumped past the Toledo defenders and let go a wrist shot off the far post and in.
With time winding down, Toledo pressed but Munce stood strong and the Checkers defenders did a great job of blocking shots as the team walked away with a 3-1 victory. The stage is now set for Charlotte to clinch the series with a win at home on Sunday.
Charlotte (2-1) will host Toledo for 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 four playoff points (3g, 1a) while Adam Keefe leads the Walleye with four goals…Charlotte is 17-3-1 in its last 21 home games…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.
Toledo Walleye 1 At Charlotte Checkers 3 - Status: Final
Apr 9, 2010 - Time Warner Cable Arena
Toledo 1 0 0 - 1
Charlotte 0 2 1 - 3
1st Period-1, Toledo, Nesbitt 2 (Charlebois, Pearce), 5:29. Penalties-Zarb Tol (interference), 10:19; Urquhart Chr (cross-checking), 13:44; Roche Chr (slashing ), 17:27; Aliu Tol (cross-checking), 20:00; Keefe Tol (roughing), 20:00; Reynolds Chr (roughing), 20:00.
2nd Period-2, Charlotte, Marshall 1 (Carroll, Urquhart), 1:42 (pp). 3, Charlotte, Tkaczuk 2 (Hendrikx, Doig), 17:29. Penalties-Urquhart Chr (delay of game), 12:58.
3rd Period-4, Charlotte, Leveille 1 (Taylor), 6:37. Penalties-Keefe Tol (high-sticking), 1:19; Rowe Chr (high-sticking), 12:04; Keefe Tol (tripping), 17:45; Doig Chr (slashing ), 19:32.
Shots on Goal-Toledo 12-3-11-26. Charlotte 13-13-13-39.
Power Play Opportunities-Toledo 0 of 5; Charlotte 1 of 4.
Goalies-Toledo, Pearce 1-1-0-0 (39 shots-36 saves). Charlotte, Munce 1-1-0-0 (26 shots-25 saves).
Referees-Steve Patafie (29).
Linesmen-Ray King (39), Mathieu Chenier (71).