A 76-game season came down to one point and 60-minutes of play today. The Charlotte Checkers lost the final, and arguably most important game of a four-game road trip that began on Tuesday with a 3-0 win in Rockford.
In a nutshell? The Checkers looked tired, and lacked the fight they had during their past three games, all wins in nearby Midwest division cities. From the initial ucmdrop, Charlotte failed to find a way to maintain control of the game. The pace was at times frantic, with Charlotte having a hard time keeping up with the pace that Milwaukee set.
Both goaltenders on the ice today were playing their third straight of a three-in-three weekend. Milwaukee’s Jeremy Smith, who’s past two games have gone into the shootout and overtime, respectively, had no problem stopping the Checkers today. Smith seemed composed when Justin Peters seemed tired and unable to prevent any rebounds.
Penalties were an overwhelming theme to the night, with Milwaukee having seven power play opportunities, and converting on two of them.
During the first period, referee Mark Lemelin made a pretty blatant mistake by allowing the Admirals to have a power play which included over a minute of 5-on-3. the call on the ice was Three Admirals players got two minute penalties, and the Checkers got one two and one four minute penalty. Justin Shugg was given a penalty on the box score simply to cover up for the on ice errors of the referee. Shugg had been sent to the box to serve the first two of Chris Durno’s four minute roughing penalty, and the Admirals were given an extra skater as if they were on the power play.
All in all, one team wanted to win the game, and the other was too tired to fight.
It’s going to be a long drive back to Charlotte, and if there is one place I wouldn’t want to be tonight, it’s on the Checkers bus back to Chicago.
Let the scoreboard watching in Texas commence. If Houston loses in regulation or overtime, Charlotte can still make it into the playoffs, but a win by Houston eliminates the Checkers.