CHARLOTTE, NC—The Charlotte Checkers held a two-goal lead early in the second period but could not hold on as they were edged, 4-3, by the Cincinnati Cyclones in Game 1 of the American Conference Semifinals on Friday evening.
The loss snaps a three-game win streak for the Checkers and is only their second loss at home in the last 12 home games. Charlotte went 2-for-5 on the power play and Cincinnati scored while shorthanded. The Cyclones had 16 shorthanded goals during the regular season, leading the entire ECHL.
Charlotte opened the scoring midway through the first period on a power-play goal by David Marshall. David Urquhart fired a wrist shot from the point through traffic and Marshall was parked in the slot to tip home his third of the playoffs.
Two minutes later, Cincinnati defenseman Kevin Roeder was assessed a penalty for roughing up Randy Rowe behind the Cyclones net.
The Checkers went to work on the power play and made good again, this time on a goal by Kenny Roche. Rowe worked the puck along the left side boards before firing a slap shot at Cincinnati netminder Jeremy Smith. Aaron Slattengren took a swing at the rebound and missed but Roche made no mistake and found the back of the net.
The Cyclones got on the board with four minutes to play in the period on a 3-on-2 rush. Brett Robinson skated down the right-wing side and launched a pass across the crease to Dustin Sproat who tapped it in, cutting Charlotte’s lead in half.
Early in the second, the Checkers made it a 3-1 game on Mike Taylor’s fourth goal of the playoffs. Julien Brouillette started the play with a stretch pass up to Michel Leveille on the right-wing side. Leveille then drove wide around a Cincinnati defender and sent a backhand saucer pass to Taylor who tipped it home past Smith. The goal came at the 2:06 mark of the second period.
The Cyclones replied again late in the period when Maxime Lacroix tipped a Matt Pierce wrist shot past Checkers netminder Ryan Munce. The shorthanded goal came at 16:36 of the second period and was Lacroix’ first goal since being returned from the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL) prior to the game.
The Checkers’ power play went to work again early in the third and created many scoring chances but Smith shut the door to keep it a 3-2 game.
Cincinnati then tied the game at 3-3, midway through the period, when Brett Motherwell let go a harmless looking shot from the corner that trickled in past Munce.
With less than five minutes to play in the game, Cyclones forward Brett Robinson entered the zone and fired a wrist shot that deflected off the pants of Steve Ward and into the top corner of the net. The goal proved to be the game winner despite late efforts by Charlotte to force overtime.
The two teams will meet again for Game 2 tomorrow (7 p.m.) at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Charlotte (3-2) will host Cincinnati again tomorrow at 7 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 is 10-2 in its last 12 home games…Mike Taylor leads the Checkers with four goals and two assists in the playoffs…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… 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.
Cincinnati Cyclones 4 At Charlotte Checkers 3 - Status: Unofficial Final
Apr 16, 2010 - Time Warner Cable Arena
Cincinnati 1 1 2 - 4
Charlotte 2 1 0 - 3
1st Period-1, Charlotte, Marshall 3 (Urquhart, Tkaczuk), 11:07 (pp). 2, Charlotte, Roche 2 (Bartlett, Rowe), 14:15 (pp). 3, Cincinnati, Sproat 2 (Robinson, Motherwell), 16:00. Penalties-Robinson Cin (roughing), 9:15; Roeder Cin (roughing), 13:07; Stefanishion Chr (roughing), 16:10; Eddy Cin (roughing), 19:39; Marshall Chr (roughing), 19:39.
2nd Period-4, Charlotte, Taylor 4 (Brouillette, Leveille), 2:06. 5, Cincinnati, Lacroix 1 (Pierce), 16:36 (sh). Penalties-Pierce Cin (high-sticking), 5:52; Tkaczuk Chr (hooking), 11:03; Roche Chr (slashing ), 14:02; Roeder Cin (elbowing), 16:26.
3rd Period-6, Cincinnati, Motherwell 1 (Roeder), 9:25. 7, Cincinnati, Robinson 1 (Kilpatrick), 15:38. Penalties-Kilpatrick Cin (slashing ), 4:20; Stefanishion Chr (roughing), 7:22; Sheahan Cin (delay of game), 16:58.
Shots on Goal-Cincinnati 9-6-11-26. Charlotte 9-4-11-24.
Power Play Opportunities-Cincinnati 0 of 4; Charlotte 2 of 6.
Goalies-Cincinnati, Smith 3-1-1-0 (24 shots-21 saves). Charlotte, Munce 3-1-0-0 (26 shots-22 saves).
Referees-Geno Binda (15).
Linesmen-Mathieu Chenier (71), Paul Reid (97).