Checkers Bounce Bruins to Advance to Next Round
CHARLOTTE, NC - The Checkers took full advantage of their first chance to advance in the Calder Cup Playoffs, eliminating the Bruins with a 4-1 beatdown to take the series three games to one.
Charlotte's initial offensive spark came from a fresh face, as former UMass standout Jacob Pritchard launched a puck from a low angle that found its way in for his first pro goal. The Checkers' scoring leaders then took over in the middle frame, with Andrew Poturalski and Morgan Geekie both lighting the lamp to push their advantage even further heading into the third.
With their backs against the wall the Bruins finally broke through on the score sheet for the first time in six periods to push back against Charlotte, but the Checkers never wavered from then on. Poturalski took off for an empty net dagger in the final minute of regulation and that sealed the deal for Charlotte.
While the Checkers had no shortage of offensive production in Game 4, their stifling defense played a key role in the victory as well. Alex Nedeljkovic, coming off a shutout performance in Game 3, stopped 25 of 26 to earn the win, and the Checkers killed off all five man advantages the Bruins were given, holding them scoreless on 10 consecutive power plays dating back to Wednesday night.
Coach Mike Vellucci on the game
I thought it was a pretty good game. We had them 3-0 again, played pretty good and didn't give them many opportunities. In the third we got a little loose but again we killed five power plays and only had one. It's a little tough to take that many penalties, but they went 0-for-10 on the power play in those last two games so I give (Assistant coach Ryan Warsofsky) a lot of credit for the penalty kill.
Vellucci on a big offensive series by Andrew Poturalski and Morgan Geekie
Poturalski, Geekie - those guys really had a good series here, but what got us going was Pritchard's first pro goal. We had just had a couple of chances there and their goalie made some big saves. He's a good young goalie. He played his first pro game but he looked really good.
Vellucci on playing Providence
We played them eight times in the regular season and this was Game 4. It's a lot, so things were getting nasty obviously. We played hard, and give them a lot of credit because they worked and competed right to the end and that made us compete even harder.
Andrew Poturalski on closing the series
It's definitely tough to close a team out, especially them because they're a good team and they play hard. They definitely closed things up a little bit tonight, so everybody had to step it up another notch. I thought our boys battled back and got a big win.
Poturalski on his line with Geekie and Aleksi Saarela
We're just working hard out there, and we had some good momentum coming in from the regular season to carry into the playoffs. We all love playing with each other and playing hard and smart. With our skill and speed it's fun to be out there.
Poturalski on Jacob Pritchard
He did a great job out there. That's been our mentality all year just to be the next man up. He stepped right in that role, played a great game and got a huge goal to get us going. Whoever has scored the first goal in this series won every game, so for him to get us going like that is definitely huge. Congrats to him.
Jacob Pritchard on his goal
I actually saw (Julien Gauthier) back door and it was meant to be a pass, but I'll take it. It's pretty cool to get the first one out of the way and pretty cool to do it at home too.
Pritchard on jumping into the playoffs after recently finishing his college career
I think the more you play the less you kind of think. You don't necessarily realize you're in the AHL playoffs, you just play hockey. That's made it a lot easier.
The Checkers advanced to the second round for the second consecutive season. They will play the winner of tomorrow's Game 5 between Bridgeport and Hershey ... Games 1 and 2 of the second round will be Friday, May 3, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, May 4, at 6 p.m. regardless of opponent. Tickets for those games are on sale now ... The Checkers won a series on home ice for the first time in team history ... Poturalski set a new team record for points in a single series (9), topping the old mark of eight set by Zac Dalpe in 2011 (six games). He leads the league in playoff scoring and has six consecutive multi-point games dating back to the regular season (14 points total) ... Geekie set a new team record for goals in a series (4). He is currently tied for second in playoff goal scoring ... The Checkers and Alex Nedeljkovic allowed one total goal in the last two games of the series ... In the last two games combined, Providence had 10 power plays against just two for the Checkers ... The Checkers are 41-0-0 when leading after two periods this season ... Defenseman Trevor Carrick served the second of a three-game suspension ... Forwards Scott Davidson and Zack Stortini and defenseman Eric Williams were healthy extras.
Game 1 of the second round will be Friday, May 3, at Bojangles' Coliseum with a 7 p.m. puck drop.
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American Hockey League Stories from April 26, 2019
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