CHARLOTTE, NC—The Charlotte Checkers fell behind by two in the second period and battled back but came up short as they were edged, 2-1, by the Cincinnati Cyclones in Game 7 on Wednesday evening.
It was the first ever Game 7 in Checkers history and also proved to be the last as it was announced in March that Charlotte will begin play in the American Hockey League beginning in 2010-11.
With the win, the Cyclones advance to the American Conference Finals for the fourth straight year and will face the Reading Royals. Cincinnati won the Kelly Cup in 2007-08.
Cyclones rookie goaltender Jeremy Smith stopped 33 of 34 shots while Ryan Munce stopped 20 in a losing effort. Mark Van Guilder notched both goals for Cincinnati and Mike Taylor replied for Charlotte.
The Cyclones opened the scoring with less than eight minutes to play in the first period on Van Guilder’s first of the night. Maxime Lacroix threw the puck on net and it bounced onto the stick of Van Guilder who chipped it home past Munce.
Minutes later, Cincinnati was assessed a tripping penalty and the Checkers went to work on the power play. The Cyclones’ defenders, however, kept Charlotte to the outside and Smith made two easy saves to keep it a 1-0 game.
Cincinnati held a 11-4 shot advantage through 20 minutes of play.
The Cyclones went ahead by two, 4:40 into the second period, on Van Guilder’s second goal, a power-play marker. Defenseman Brett Motherwell fired a shot from the point off the post and the rebound landed on the stick of Van Guilder who tapped it home.
Munce kept the Checkers in the game minutes later when he stopped Jimmy Kilpatrick point blank on a breakaway.
Smith then answered his Charlotte counterpart when he dove across his crease to stab a Julien Brouillette wrist shot from the slot.
The Checkers persisted however and got on the board with 3:09 left to play in the second. David Marshall worked the puck over to Michel Leveille who fired a shot from the blueline. Taylor was parked in the crease and banged home his team-leading sixth goal of the postseason.
Charlotte outshot the visiting Cyclones 16-8 in the second period and carried the momentum into the third period.
With a minute to play in the game and Munce pulled for the extra attacker, the Checkers went on the attack and fired a barrage of shots at the Cincinnati net. Smith made an acrobatic pad save on a shot off a rebound before Leveille fired the puck off the crossbar. Charlotte’s forwards threw everything they could on net but could not seem to find the back of the net, despite their best efforts. Smith stopped the remaining flurry of shots as the buzzer sounded, ending the game and season for the Checkers.
Notes: Ryan Munce leads the ECHL with two postseason shutouts…Aaron Slattengren led the Checkers with 10 points (2g, 8a) in the playoffs while Mike Taylor led the team with six goals…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 2 At Charlotte Checkers 1 - Status: Final
Apr 28, 2010 - Time Warner Cable Arena
Cincinnati 1 1 0 - 2
Charlotte 0 1 0 - 1
1st Period-1, Cincinnati, Van Guilder 1 (Lacroix, Kilpatrick), 12:46. Penalties-Roeder Cin (tripping), 2:30; Marshall Chr (bench - too many men), 13:24; Robinson Cin (tripping), 15:51.
2nd Period-2, Cincinnati, Van Guilder 2 (Motherwell, Kilpatrick), 4:40 (pp). 3, Charlotte, Taylor 6 (Leveille, Marshall), 16:51. Penalties-Rowe Chr (slashing ), 3:24; Roeder Cin (roughing), 5:12; Slattengren Chr (roughing), 5:12; Ehgoetz Cin (hooking), 5:49; Sheahan Cin (delay of game), 14:41; Stefanishion Chr (cross-checking), 19:22.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Roeder Cin (holding), 17:03.
Shots on Goal-Cincinnati 11-8-3-22. Charlotte 4-16-14-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Cincinnati 1 of 3; Charlotte 0 of 5.
Goalies-Cincinnati, Smith 7-4-1-0 (34 shots-33 saves). Charlotte, Munce 6-5-0-0 (22 shots-20 saves).
Referees-Jean Hebert (27).
Linesmen-Mathieu Chenier (71), Mike Hamilton (80).