CHARLOTTE, NC—The Charlotte Checkers scored a third-period goal to force overtime and then made good in the extra frame as they edged the Toledo Walleye, 5-4, to win the series 3-1 and advance to the conference semifinals for the first time since 2006-07.
Daniel Tkaczuk potted two goals, including the game winner while David Marshall chipped in with a goal and two assists. Tkaczuk now has all three game-winning tallies for the Checkers in these playoffs. Charlotte was playing without the services of captain Michel Leveille who sat out with an injury.
The Checkers opened the scoring just three minutes into the game on a goal by Matt Scheke. Marshall picked up the puck on the right wing wall and fed a pass between the defenseman and goaltender. Schepke took the puck off his skates and tucked it home for the early 1-0 lead.
Toledo evened the score on the power play midway through the period when a Derek Nesbitt point shot was redirected in front and snuck past Checkers goaltender Ryan Munce.
Charlotte would take its second lead of the game 2:13 later while on a 5-on-3 power play. Aaron Slattengren, parked on the right wing wall, fed a pass to the point to Mike Bartlett who one-timed it on net. Marshall picked up the rebound and found the back of the net from a bad angle to take a 2-1 lead.
With less than two minutes to play in the period, Matt Stefanishion made it a 3-1 game when he streaked in from the blueline, grabbed a pass from Slattengren and fired a shot into the top corner past Walleye netminder Jordan Pearce.
Toledo then scored its first of three straight goals with 2.5 seconds to play in the first frame when Scooter Smith redirected a shot past Munce in front of the net.
Munce and Toledo forward Adam Keefe engaged in an altercation at the buzzer and the Checkers were somehow handed an extra roughing penalty to start the second period.
On the ensuing power play, Chris Robertson dished the puck back to Simon Danis-Pepin who one-timed a slap shot into the back of the net.
Minutes later, Toledo forward Derek Nesbitt broke in alone on the Charlotte net and Munce made a beautiful pad save to keep it a 3-3 game.
With four minutes to play in the second period, Walleye defenseman J.C. Sawyer grabbed the puck at the blueline and pump-faked a shot to drop a Checkers defender to the ice. He then carried it around and let go a wrist shot that beat Munce between the legs to make a 4-3 Toledo lead.
Early in the third period, Daniel Tkaczuk found a rebound from a Trevor Hendrikx point shot but missed a wide open net. Tkaczuk then made good, seconds later, when he stuffed home another rebound, this time off a shot from the slot by Slattengren, to tie the game at 4-4.
Charlotte had many scoring chances throughout the rest of the third period but Pearce turned everything aside and the two teams headed for sudden-death overtime.
Early in the overtime period, the Checkers were assessed a penalty and Toledo went to work on the power play. The Walleye had several good scoring chances, however Munce shut the door to keep it a tie game.
Minutes later, the Checkers went to work on a power play of their own. Steve Ward made a pass across the blueline to Marshall who took a shot toward the net. Tkaczuk was parked at the side of the net and tipped it home for the game-winning and series-clinching goal.
The Checkers will now host the winner of the South Carolina/Cincinnati series on Friday.
Charlotte (3-1) will host the winner of the South Carolina/Cincinnati series on Friday 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: The Checkers advance to the conference semifinals for the first time in three seasons…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…Charlotte is 10-1 in its last 11 home games…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.
Toledo Walleye 4 At Charlotte Checkers 5 (OT) - Status: Final
Apr 11, 2010 - Time Warner Cable Arena
Toledo 2 2 0 0 - 4
Charlotte 3 0 1 1 - 5
1st Period-1, Charlotte, Schepke 1 (Carroll, Marshall), 3:10. 2, Toledo, Nesbitt 3 (Danis-Pepin, Piche), 12:35 (pp). 3, Charlotte, Marshall 2 (Slattengren, Bartlett), 14:48 (pp). 4, Charlotte, Stefanishion 1 (Taylor, Slattengren), 18:34. 5, Toledo, Smith 1 (Hedden), 19:58. Penalties-Reynolds Chr (cross-checking), 5:59; Slattengren Chr (high-sticking), 12:09; Romano Tol (hooking), 13:39; Piche Tol (boarding), 14:09; Urquhart Chr (interference), 15:48; Keefe Tol (unsportsmanlike conduct, roughing), 20:00; Munce Chr (roughing), 20:00; Urquhart Chr (roughing, roughing), 20:00.
2nd Period-6, Toledo, Danis-Pepin 1 (Robertson, Nesbitt), 0:45 (pp). 7, Toledo, Sawyer 2 (Charlebois, Robertson), 16:14. Penalties-Ward Chr (roughing), 4:51; Sawyer Tol (slashing ), 5:59; Tanguay Tol (interference), 13:47.
3rd Period-8, Charlotte, Tkaczuk 3 (Doig, Slattengren), 1:42. Penalties-No Penalties
OT Period-9, Charlotte, Tkaczuk 4 (Ward, Marshall), 8:10 (pp). Penalties-Roche Chr (roughing), 4:18; Piche Tol (tripping), 7:43; Roche Chr (game misconduct - abuse of officials), 8:10.
Shots on Goal-Toledo 12-12-6-4-34. Charlotte 8-7-11-6-32.
Power Play Opportunities-Toledo 2 of 6; Charlotte 2 of 5.
Goalies-Toledo, Pearce 1-2-0-0 (32 shots-27 saves). Charlotte, Munce 2-1-0-0 (34 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Nick Krebsbach (8).
Linesmen-Ray King (39), Terry Wicklum (98).