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Checkers Fall in Franchise's First Finals Game

June 1, 2019 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Charlotte Checkers News Release

CHARLOTTE, NC - The Checkers came out strong in their Calder Cup Finals debut but couldn't fend off the Wolves in Game 1, falling 4-3 in overtime.

The two sides traded tallies within the first six minutes of play before the Checkers took over in the later stages of the period. Martin Necas set up and then redirected a point blast from Roland McKeown inside the five-minute mark, followed quickly by Andrew Poturalski threading a shot through on the rush to give Charlotte a 3-1 lead through 20 minutes of play.

The ice would tilt Chicago's way in the middle frame. The Wolves out-shot the home squad 11-7 in the period and pulled themselves back even with a pair of seeing-eye shots, the latter of which came with just six seconds on the clock.

The Checkers pushed hard to regain their advantage in the third, peppering Chicago goalie Oscar Dansk with 17 shots, but couldn't put any behind him, sending the contest into overtime. The extra frame featured quality chances for both sides, including a power play for Chicago that the Checkers promptly killed, but a quick wrister from Stefan Matteau beat Alex Nedeljkovic just over five minutes in to secure a series lead for the Wolves.


Coach Mike Vellucci on Chicago coming back from a 3-1 deficit

I thought they had a good second period and a good pushback. They scored three goals from the point and had a good net-front presence there. A couple of them just got through there with, I don't want to say luck, but that's what they're trying to do and that's what we try to do. They got three good goals from the point.

Vellucci on moving on to the next game

We're in the finals. This isn't the end of the world. We lost one game, and it was in overtime to a very good team. This is the finals of the league, there's only two teams standing and you've got to pick your head up and move on to tomorrow. The crowd was great, they were in to it. I thought maybe we were a little nervous at the beginning, but it was awesome. This was a learning experience for these guys. We're the youngest team in the league, and it's a great learning experience to learn how to play in a final.

Vellucci on comparing this Game 1 loss to their Game 1 loss in their last series with Toronto

We've rebounded every time. Our goaltender, our D, our forwards - we've rebounded when we've had a loss. I don't expect anything different. Is it going to be easy? No, but I expect us to rebound.

Vellucci on players gaining experience from a Calder Cup Final

They're the only ones playing right now. The more they can play and the more they get experience in a tough environment - that was an 8,500 sellout for us, loud, playoffs - that was the loudest it's been all year. It's just great to get that exposure and that experience.

Patrick Brown on positives from the game

I thought we played a pretty solid game. Obviously it hurts to give up a lead like that, but we've been in this position before. You forget about it, and we'll respond tomorrow.

Brown on feeling out Chicago in Game 1

They're playing us for the first time too, though. That's kind of what it is. We have to out-play them every single night. Tonight, call it a couple of bounces if you want, but we had the lead and we gave it back to them. We've got to keep our foot on the gas.

Brown on getting another chance to play tomorrow

It's great. We'll come in tomorrow, play a little soccer, forget about it, do some video, feel good and get ready for the game tomorrow.

Andrew Poturalski on the game

Going up 3-1 there in the first period, we had all the momentum and we let it slip away. That's not the way we wanted it to go, but stuff happens in the playoffs. It's not going to be easy at this level in the Calder Cup Finals, so we've got to bounce back tomorrow, clean the little things up and we'll be ready to go.

Poturalski on opening the series with a loss

You've got to win four games to win a series, so one game is nothing. We started off the same way last series with a loss to Toronto in Game 1, so we know what to do. We'll stick to our game plan.


The attendance of 8,465 was the Checkers' largest-ever AHL crowd at Bojangles' Coliseum, eclipsing the record of 8,393 that was set in their most recent game last week ... The Checkers have gone to overtime three times in these playoffs, all of which were in their last four games. They are 1-2 in overtime games ... Of the Checkers' four playoff losses, two were in overtime ... This was the Checkers' first loss of the playoffs when scoring first. They are now 8-1 ... The Checkers have not lost consecutive games since Feb. 9-10. One of those games was in a shootout ... After winning Game 1 in their first two playoff series, the Checkers lost Game 1 in their last two ... With 19 points, Poturalski has at least three more points than any other skater in these playoffs. Morgan Geekie is part of a three-way tie for second ... Forward Julien Gauthier and defenseman Dan Renouf missed the game due to injury ... Forwards Scott Davidson, Jacob Pritchard and Zack Stortini, defensemen Dennis Robertson and Jacob Sellgren and goaltender Jeremy Helvig were healthy extras.

Up Next

The Checkers and Wolves square off again tomorrow for Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals, with the puck dropping at 6 p.m.

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