I didn’t watch or listen to the game thanks to the fact I was at work without access all afternoon/evening, but it sounded like it was an amazing. Who am I kidding, it WAS an awesome game because the Charlotte Checkers defeated the Hershey Bears and ended their playoff run. The back-to-back Calder Cup Champions (and they’ve won three in the last five years) have never lost a series at home in the Giant Center. The last time they lost a series at home, it was in their old arena in 2002.
Nicolas Blanchard scored the game winning goal, only a minute and a half into the overtime period. Mike Murphy stopped 26 of 27 shots, and had another phenomenal performance between the pipes. If he doesn’t start every game in the second round, I will be shocked. Zack Fitzgerald misses his second straight game with a thumb injury, but he’s hard to keep down so I would expect to see him back sooner than later.
The Checkers have a few days to rest up and recharge (and practice, practice, practice, I’m sure!) before the first playoff game of the second round.
Here are a few keys to the Checkers series win against Hershey:
- The Checkers ROCKED the penalty kill, only allowing one goal (in 26 PK’s)
- The Checkers were able to capitalize on four power plays (in 33 attempts)
- Justin Faulk. This kid is AMAZING and I love seeing him in a Checkers sweater. He’s fit in so well already, and is getting big minutes with the top-defensemen on the team.
- The Zac(h)’s. Dalpe’s a rookie, and had eight points in six games… three goals, five assists. Boychuck has seven points, with three goals and four assists.
- Mike Murphy went 3-1 in his four starts against Hershey. He had some rough first periods, but when Murphy starts a game, he ends it strong. His final first-round stats were phenomenal. He had a 2.24 GAA, and .926 SV%.
So next up, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and the Penguins. The Pens had the best record in the AHL, and the Checkers went 1-6-0-1, only beating the Pens once in regulation. While this is a daunting stat, I still have a lot of faith in our Checkers. They have fight and determination, and a full roster with no risk of our NHL Club needing our guys. Game one is on Thursday in Wilkes-Barre, and game two follows on Saturday. If I didn’t have a show this week, I can assure you I would be in Wilkes-Barre for the first two games! I even had a brief fantasy about seeing how much it would cost to charter a bus up and back, and see if there were enough Checkers fans interested in a crazy yet epic roadtrip.
The Checkers will be at home a week from Monday. Game three is Monday, May 2 at 7 p.m., and game four is Wednesday, May 4 at 7 p.m. These games are going to be INCREDIBLE, and I will be bringing everyone I know to cheer our team on to victory.
Lets Go Checkers!