The one about winning game one in the second round

Game one of the second round deserves a great write-up, but I fear I don’t have a LOT of stuff to talk about other than the obvious, which is the Charlotte Checkers beat the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the first game of the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs.  You see, I was at a world premiere/opening night of the local ballet company, and while I firmly believe that the Charlotte Checkers > ballet, the ballet pays me to be there, and the Checkers don’t.  The good news is opening night was great, the dancing was good, and the CHECKERS upset the Pens on their home ice.

As excited and proud I am of MY team winning, I know it’s just the first game, and anything and everything can change.  One game does’t win the series, but the team is on a four game winning streak now, which is a nice thing in the Playoffs.  Bottom line is I hope they stay confidence, but keep it in check because this is just the beginning.

I followed online via twitter, and on the radio when I could pop an earbud in to listen to Jason Shaya on the internet feed on my iPad.  So here are my observations about the game itself.

  • This was a TOTALLY different game than any of the first round games vs. Hershey.  We only allowed one power play goal by the Bears (in 26 attempts) and tonight, allowed two Penguins PP goals in eight attempts.  On the flip side, we scored two PP goals in six tries.  Our penalty kill was a huge key to beating the Bears, and I want to see this come back.
  • Speed speed speed!  This was the kind of hockey our guys like to play.  They seemed to find their groove, went with it and excelled.
  • Mike Murphy had a fantastic game.  The first and third periods had him stopping twice as many shots as Brad Thiessen did.  Only in the last few minutes of the second period did the Checkers go on a shooting rampage, bombarding Thiessen with many, many shot attempts.
  • We took way too many penalties overall!  This is NOT how you when playoff games.  I want to see more restraint from our team going forward.
  • Jonathan Matsumoto had two goals, including the game winner.  Of course, right after his second goal, he went to the box for being a hooker which resulted on another Penguins PP goal.
  • I’m glad that Zack Fitzgerald was back in this game.  It sounds like we might need his lovable, enforcer, goon-like skills in this series.
  • There were a few near-misses/potential injuries to Penguins players.  Ben Street didn’t return to the bench for the second period, Brett Sterling left the ice for a bit during the second after a hit behind the net by Fitzgerald.  There was no call on the play, only a roughing call on the ensuing friction between Checkers and Penguins who were each standing up for their teammates.  In the third period, Brad Thiessen took a shot from Chris Terry that dropped him to the ice (it seems to have hit his collar bone) and he was down for a bit afterwards, but finished out the game.  I’ll be interested to see how banged up these guys really are.
Random observations about fans, team spirit, our awesome black aces, etc:
  •  I wanted to throw up in my mouth when I thought I could hear Chelsea Dagger playing in the Mohegan Sun arena.  I hate that song and the fact it’s the dumb Blackhawks goal song.  Did I really hear it, or were my ears playing tricks on me?
  • I loved hearing the fans in WBS.  They were cheering and chanting, and that’s a good thing at any hockey game.  I propose though, Charlotte Checkers fans, that we out-loud them.  Let’s turn it up next week, and make noise and support our team!
  • At my favorite bar, where I went for the end of the game, I talked to about a dozen guys who all asked me about the Checkers since I was the token person there in a Checkers jersey and not an NFL one on their draft day, and many of them said they were going to buy tickets after talking to me.
  • Bobby Goepfert should be the intermission interview at EVERY game.  I was laughing so hard.  He said Mike Murphy had a Justin Bieber-like quality (I mean, they both have nice hair, but it’s nothing at all alike…) and he said he likes spice.  Bobby Goepfert spice… I wonder what kind of spice he is?  Cajun?  Jalapeno?  Something mild like a basil/Italian spice?
  • I don’t know how to type Goepfert’s reaction to Shaya’s question about who drafted him… the Pittsburgh Penguins.  It was a sound of utter disgust, a true BLEH when he said that was who claimed him at the draft.  All I know is I’m glad he’s a part of the Checkers organization now, and would love to see him stick around after the way he’s supported us this year when we needed him.
Game two is Saturday night, and will be broadcast on AM radio here in Charlotte again.  I learned tonight that my iPad is NOT compatible with AHL live, so I was glad to have my radio app installed to listen to the feed that way!  Tune in!
Lets Go Checkers!
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