In the 76th and final game of the regular season, the Checkers took care of business to stay hot and clinch 3rd place in the Atlantic Division.
With Providence winning its game earlier on Sunday evening, the Checkers needed at least one point from their meeting with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to jump ahead in the standings. The home squad got on the board first thanks to a ricocheting puck, but the visitors would take over from there.
Trevor Carrick ripped a wrister through from the point for a power-play tally late in the first, then rookie Warren Foegele pulled off an impressive power move to the net to give Charlotte a lead early on in the middle frame. The Checkers would buckle down from there, led by a strong showing from netminder Jeremy Smith, and a pair of empty-net tallies would seal the 4-1 victory for Charlotte.
The win cemented Charlotte’s position in 3rd place and set up a first-round matchup with the two-seed Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Penguins. Additionally, although he didn’t light the lamp, tonight wrapped up Valentin Zykov’s historic 2017-18 campaign as his 33 goals on the year clinched him the Willie Marshall Award as the AHL’s leading goal scorer.
Though his nine-game point streak came to an end, Valentin Zykov won the Willie Marshall Award as the AHL’s top goal scorer with 33 on the season … The Checkers won their seventh consecutive game, tying a franchise record set last season. They also extended their point streak to 10 games (9-0-1), which is their longest since a franchise-record, 12-game run that occurred in December/January of the 2015-16 season … They enter the playoffs with the longest active win streak in the league and are tied for the longest active point streak (Toronto) … The Checkers finished with their highest point total (96) since moving to a 76-game schedule prior to the 2011-12 season. Their .632 points percentage is a franchise record … Philip Samuelsson finished as the league’s leader in plus/minus (+44) … Jeremy Smith won his fifth consecutive game, tying his longest streak of the season … Carrick has goals in consecutive games and nine points (4g, 5a) in his last eight … Greg McKegg picked up an assist, giving him at least one point in 17 of his 19 games as a Checker … Foegele scored for the first time in nine AHL games … The Checkers have eight power-play goals in their last five games … Forward Marcus Kruger, defenseman Jake Chelios and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic missed the game due to injury … Forwards Mike Ferrantino, Nick Schilkey, Zack Stortini and Sergey Tolchinsky, and defensemen Matt Finn, Tyler Ganly and Dennis Robertson were healthy extras.
With the regular season over, the Checkers will now regroup for their first-round matchup with the Penguins. Game 1 will take place on Friday at 7 p.m. in Bojangles’ Coliseum.
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.