Tom McCollum Shuts Out Wolves for Game 1 Victory
In the opening game of the Calder Cup Playoffs, the Checkers didn’t shy away from the pressure, dealing the Chicago Wolves a decisive 4-0 win to take a 1-0 lead in the Central Division Semifinals.

Led by a three-point night from Lucas Wallmark and a two-point effort by Andrew Miller, the Checkers’ offense cruised past Ville Husso and the Wolves’ defense. On the other side of the ice, Tom McCollum denied all 20 of the shots he saw, picking up the shutout and continuing his hot streak into the postseason.

Brendan Woods kicked off the scoring in the opening frame, jamming home a rebound out front through traffic to give Charlotte an early lead in front of a loud Bojangles’ Coliseum. They would double that advantage after 40 minutes of play courtesy of a beautiful Miller-to-Wallmark passing play, then fought off a hard push from the offensively dangerous Wolves to start the third.

Chicago couldn’t break through Charlotte’s defense, however, and Andrew Miller extended the lead with a quick wrister in the final four minutes, followed by an empty-net dagger from Wallmark in the waning moments of the game.

QUOTES

Head coach Ulf Samuelsson on his team’s performance:
“That was solid all around. I thought our structure was very solid throughout the whole game.”

Samuelsson on Tom McCollum:
“He made some big saves at the right time and usually that team wins. We were lucky to have him.”

Samuelsson on a lot of his young team making their playoff debuts:
“You could sense there were some guys that were a little nervous. Some guys handled it well and some guys will be a lot better tomorrow because it’s still the first time. It’s nice to have it over with and nice to get a W.”

Samuelsson on shutting down Chicago’s top line:
“Good structure, good five-man defense and a couple of good saves. Wallmark’s line played most of the night against that line and they did a terrific job.”

Samuelsson on Game 2:
“We know it’s going to be harder tomorrow because they’re going to regroup and are going to sense some desperation. They don’t want to go home 0-2 for sure, so it’s going to be a very tight, hard game tomorrow.”

Lucas Wallmark on the team’s performance:
“I think we played a really good game. We had a good start and good PK today also. Tom was good as usual in the net, so that was a good first game for us.”

Wallmark on his first game back from injury:
“The first few shifts was kind of tough and the legs weren’t there, but after that I came into it and it was a good game from our line. It was fun to play and fun to be back.”

Wallmark on Game 2:
“We had a good game here tonight, and it’s going to be important now to get some sleep, some rest and some food. It’s going to be an important game tomorrow – every game is important now. We’re looking forward to that game, so we can keep building on that.”

Haydn Fleury on the team’s performance:
“I thought we played our system and we played our way. We didn’t give their top guys a lot of room and a lot of respect. We got the puck deep and worked their defense.”

Fleury on shutting down Chicago’s offense:
“They’re all good players and very skilled. The less time they have out there that makes it harder on them when they don’t get their touch and their rhythm going. The more you can take that time and space away the harder it will make that game for them.”

Fleury on McCollum:
“He’s awesome. We wouldn’t be here without him and we’re glad to have him.”

Fleury on Game 2:
“They’re going to be desperate. They had a push at the start of the third and I thought we matched that and got a big third goal there to put the game out of reach. They’re going to come out hard tomorrow and we’ve got to match that again.”

NOTES

McCollum’s shutout was the first of his playoff career (24 games) and the second in team history (Mike Murphy, May, 4, 2011) … Miller (1g, 1a tonight) has 34 points (10g, 24a) in his last 35 games … Wallmark (2g, 1a) recorded his third three-point game of the season, all of which have come since March 10. He tied the team record for most points in a playoff game set six times previously … The Checkers are undefeated in their last eight games (5-0-3) … Charlotte is now 28-10-1 at Bojangles’ Coliseum this season … Jake Chelios (1a, plus-4 tonight) has 24 points (2g, 22a) and a plus-25 rating in his last 43 games. Defensive partner Trevor Carrick was also plus-4, with those marks tying the highest posted by a Checkers skater this season … Wallmark (four games missed), Danny Kristo (eight) and Aleksi Saarela (two) all returned from injury. Michael Leighton dressed for the first time since suffering an injury on Feb. 17 … Forward Erik Karlsson and defenseman Jake Bean missed the game due to injury … Forwards Clark Bishop, Kyle Hagel, Levko Koper, Janne Kuokkanen, Kris Newbury and Sergey Tolchinsky, defenseman Tyler Ganly and goaltender Daniel Altshuller were healthy extras.
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.

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