Morgan Geekie Scores in Double Overtime to Send Checkers to Calder Cup Finals
It took more than the 60 minutes of regulation to decide Game 6, but a thrilling winner from Morgan Geekie in double overtime clinched the series for the Checkers, sending them to the Calder Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history.

Just under two minutes into the second overtime, Geekie crashed the crease after Steven Lorentz had thrown a second-chance shot and redirected the puck past Toronto netminder Kasimir Kaskisuo, sending the record crowd at Bojangles’ Coliseum into a frenzy.

It took nearly a full period for either side to light the lamp, but Patrick Brown broke the ice in the final 10 seconds of the first by finishing off a feed from behind the net by Martin Necas. Clark Bishop would net another shorthanded tally for Charlotte early on in the second to double the lead, but things would tilt in the Marlies’ favor from there.

Toronto scored less than a minute after Bishop’s marker, then the visitors would tack on another two straight to claim their first lead of the contest. Charlotte’s captain would claw his team back into a tie before the second buzzer, however, firing a shot from the slot that found the back of the net and set the stage for overtime.

Alex Nedeljkovic turned in a stellar performance in his return to the crease, making 43 stops and helping his team kill of eight of a staggering nine power plays by the Marlies.

QUOTES

Coach Mike Vellucci on the win
It’s pretty wild, to be honest with you. It’s pretty draining. It was really hot in the building and we were down to nine or 10 forwards for most of it because we got some injuries and illnesses again. A great job by the penalty kill again – guys were warriors on that, we scored shorthanded and our own power play goal was a big difference.

Vellucci on the winning goal by Morgan Geekie
We just said shoot and crash the net. That’s all you can do. We had some other chances where we might have overpassed, but Lorie (Steven Lorentz) played great. He had two chances early on and he had another there, and Geeks was just going to the net. That’s what you’ve got to do.

Vellucci on the overtimes
It was grueling. No matter if we won that game or not, I can tell you that the guys left everything. They were really tired. Gassed. They gave everything they had. There was nothing left, and thank God we got that goal.

Vellucci on goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic
I’m so proud of him. He battled hard. On the penalty shot he made a pretty good play there and it just snuck in. He battled the whole game and made some huge saves. I’m proud of everybody for giving everything they have, being great teammates and rooting each other on. They were so excited for each other and I’m really excited for them.

Vellucci what the team needs to do to prepare for the Calder Cup Finals
Rest. Rest. That’s all there is. That’s all we can do right now is rest. The key will be to get as much rest as possible because a lot of guys had the flu and are dragging right now. We get some days off, and that’s why tonight was so important so we can get some days off.

Morgan Geekie on his goal
Lorie made a great play getting the puck to the net and I just kind of put my head down and went there and good things happened. Guys are getting tired and you never know what’s going to go in. We’re all going to the net, crashing and banging and trying to do our best to put pucks on the net.

Geekie on the win
We’ve got a lot of guys in that room that stepped up tonight and it was a great team effort. Everybody knows what’s on the line and none of us wanted to come back and play Tuesday. We got a full effort up and down the lineup.

Geekie on going to the Calder Cup Finals
It’s good. We’re all happy but definitely not satisfied. There’s a lot of work to be done and we’re definitely excited to get going on Saturday.

Patrick Brown on the win
What a team win. We were short a couple of guys at the end there with bumps and bruises, but that’s playoff hockey. We stuck together, we never stopped believing and we got the outcome we came for.

Brown on the team’s approach in overtime
It’s just simplifying the system we already have. We were trying to play as much in their and as we could. It didn’t happen the whole overtime because we played a lot in our zone and Ned held us in. I can’t say enough good things about him because he was incredible tonight.

Brown on the winning goal
Playoff hockey is the most fun thing there is for us. You dream your whole life when your six years old or seven years old playing mini sticks in the basement. Double overtime, you want that shot and you want the puck on your stick. Lorie made an awesome play. A guy who’s earned his right to be here. He got called up and down this year, battling all year. Gets a good shot, stays on it, fresh legs, a rebound and Geeks is going to the net. A greasy goal is awesome to see.

NOTES

This is the first Calder Cup Finals appearance in team history … The crowd of 8,393 was the team’s largest of the season … Geekie had two points and now ranks fourth among all skaters and first among rookies in playoff scoring … Bishop’s goal was the Checkers’ fourth shorthanded goal in their last three games. Prior to that, their most recent shorthanded goal was on Dec. 31, also against Toronto … The Checkers went 25-for-29 on the penalty kill against the Marlies, who entered the series with the best power play in the playoffs (40 percent) … Bishop has goals in consecutive games, which are his only points of the playoffs … Brown’s goals gave him eight points (4g, 4a) in six AHL playoff games. He led all Checkers with seven shots on goal … Tonight’s penalty shot was the first of this season’s Calder Cup Playoffs … Prior to tonight’s attempt, Nedeljkovic had stopped all three penalty shots faced in his career, all of which took place this season. The last time any Checkers goalie allowed a penalty shot was on Dec. 22, 2016 … The Checkers were out-shot 28-11 in the last two periods of regulation … Defenseman Dan Renouf missed the game due to injury … Forwards Scott Davidson, Stelio Mattheos, Jacob Pritchard and Zack Stortini, defensemen Dennis Robertson and Bobby Sanguinetti and goaltender Jeremy Helvig were healthy extras.

UP NEXT

The Calder Cup Finals start Saturday, June 1, at 6 p.m. against either Chicago or Sunday.
Nicholas Niedzielski
Author: Nicholas NiedzielskiEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Communications Nicholas Niedzielski joined the Checkers in the summer of 2014. A Texas native, he previously worked for the AHL's Texas Stars.