CHARLOTTE, NC—The Charlotte Checkers got on the board early and did not look back as they blanked the Cincinnati Cyclones, 5-0, in Game 2 of the American Conference Semifinals on Saturday evening.
The win evens the best-of-seven series at 1-1 with the next three games to be played in Cincinnati Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Ryan Munce stopped 25 shots to earn his first ever playoff shutout while Mike Bartlett potted his first two goals of the postseason. Mike Taylor scored to extend his point streak to six games and David Marshall added a goal and an assist to increase his goal streak to four games. Cyclones rookie netminder Jeremy Smith stopped 33 shots in a losing effort.
The Checkers opened the scoring for the fourth time in six games this postseason on Bartlett’s first of the evening. Marshall chipped the puck to Bartlett who skated out from the corner and beat Smith over the left pad with a backhand shot. The goal came at the 4:19 mark of the first period.
Early in the second frame, Matt Stefanishion made it a 2-0 game when he beat two Cincinnati defenders and fired a wrist shot high over the glove of Smith. Jared Nightingale picked up the lone assist in his first game back in a Checkers uniform.
The Checkers then went up 3-0 just 1:25 later while on the power play. Julien Brouillette took a pass at the blueline and fired a slap shot at the net along the ice. Smith stopped the shot with his right pad but Bartlett was on the doorstep to whack the rebound into the top corner for his second of the game.
The Cyclones showed some signs of life midway through the period and went on the attack but Munce made several impressive saves to keep them off the board.
Early in the third period, Taylor forced a turnover in the Cyclones end while killing a penalty. He then broke in alone on Smith and beat him with a backhand shot on the far side to make it a 4-0 game. The goal was Taylor’s team-leading fifth of the playoffs.
Munce continued his solid play stopping a great Cincinnati scoring chance on the power play before denying Cyclones leading scorer Barret Ehgoetz with an acrobatic kick save.
The Checkers seemed to feed off their goaltender’s strong play and went on the attack forcing Cincinnati to take costly back-to-back penalties.
On the ensuing 5-on-3 power play, Michel Leveille dished a backhand saucer pass over the Marshall who fired a bullet of a slap shot off the crossbar and in on the short side.
Munce shut the door for the remaining seven minutes and the Checkers cruised to a 5-0 victory.
Charlotte (4-2) will host Cincinnati again on Tuesday, Apr. 27 and Wednesday, Apr. 28, if necessary. 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 11-2 in its last 13 home games…Mike Taylor (5g, 2a) and David Marshall (4g, 3a) lead the Checkers with seven points each in the playoffs…Taylor has a point in each of the six playoff games thus far while Marshall has scored in four straight games…Michel Leveille is currently on a five-game point streak (1g, 4a)…Charlotte clinched its first division title and #1 conference seed in franchise history 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.
Cincinnati Cyclones 0 At Charlotte Checkers 5 - Status: Final
Apr 17, 2010 - Time Warner Cable Arena
Cincinnati 0 0 0 - 0
Charlotte 1 2 2 - 5
1st Period-1, Charlotte, Bartlett 1 (Marshall), 4:19. Penalties-Ortiz Cin (high-sticking), 6:14; Roche Chr (hooking), 18:25.
2nd Period-2, Charlotte, Stefanishion 2 (Nightingale), 3:33. 3, Charlotte, Bartlett 2 (Brouillette, Roche), 4:58 (pp). Penalties-Sproat Cin (holding), 4:00; Carroll Chr (interference), 8:08; Eddy Cin (unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:27; Lacroix Cin (boarding), 15:27; Nightingale Chr (unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:27; Motherwell Cin (roughing), 18:06; Doig Chr (double - roughing), 18:06; Sproat Cin (fighting - major), 20:00; Carroll Chr (fighting - major), 20:00.
3rd Period-4, Charlotte, Taylor 5 6:33 (sh). 5, Charlotte, Marshall 4 (Leveille, Doig), 12:41 (pp). Penalties-Bartlett Chr (slashing ), 6:17; Benson Cin (double - roughing, misconduct), 10:31; Del Monte Cin (slashing ), 11:38; Del Monte Cin (slashing , fighting - major), 15:21; Nightingale Chr (fighting - major), 15:21; Roche Chr (interference), 16:42.
Shots on Goal-Cincinnati 6-12-7-25. Charlotte 11-17-10-38.
Power Play Opportunities-Cincinnati 0 of 5; Charlotte 2 of 6.
Goalies-Cincinnati, Smith 4-2-1-0 (38 shots-33 saves). Charlotte, Munce 4-2-0-0 (25 shots-25 saves).
Referees-Jarrod Ragusin (28).
Linesmen-Mathieu Chenier (71), Paul Reid (97).