Charlotte Checkers

Offensive Second Period Leads Checker To Game Two Victory

Jason Huber
June 02, 2019 - 11:29 pm

For the second night in a row, the Charlotte Checkers held a solid lead in Game 2 at home of the Calder Cup Finals.

Like in Game 1, the Checkers saw their two-goal lead disappear, but this time, instead of losing in overtime, the Checkers found an answer.

Right wing forward Tomas Jurco scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period en route to a 5-3 series-tying victory Sunday over the Chicago Wolves at Bojangles Coliseum.

“I think we were a little harder to play against and worked really hard,” Jurco said. “It’s a sport, and one day you can do the same things and it goes the other way than the other day.”

In Game 1, the Wolves stormed back to defeat Charlotte with Alex Nedeljkovic in net.

Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci opted to rest Nedeljkovic in Game 2 and start Dustin Tokarski. He entered the game with a perfect 3-0 record through the playoffs and 8-0 in the regular season.

“He’s a veteran leader and everybody plays well in front of him,” Vellucci said. “He’s got a great record, and if you look at the analytics they’ll tell you that the percentages favor to start another guy in a back-to-back.”

A different goalie didn’t prevent deja vu’ from creeping in as Chicago honed in on another comeback by tying it up at 3-3 in the second period.

Chicago center Gage Quinney took matters into his own hands to get the Wolves back into it.

A minute after Charlotte’s third goal, Quinney scored a backhanded goal and followed it up with the game-tying goal during a Chicago power play with 8:49 remaining in the second.

Tied at three, Charlotte wouldn’t let this game head to overtime.

Jurco scored the game-leading goal with 1:07 remaining in the second period off an assist from center Martin Necas to give the Checkers a 4-3 lead.

Despite a last-ditch effort to tie things up by emptying the net, Charlotte held Chicago to just four shots on goal in the third period and center Andrew Poturalski added on one more goal in the Wolves empty goal.

“It was a relief. I’ve had many chances in the last couple of games and I couldn’t score, so that one felt really good,” Jurco said.

Both teams found their momentum in the second period.

With 5:34 off the clock, Charlotte center Nic Roy redirected the puck into the net to give the Checkers a 2-1 lead.

Before fans could even sit back down, Stelio Mattheos gained possession of the puck from Chicago just 14 seconds later and put Charlotte up 3-1 with 14:12 remaining in the second period.

“We had just scored, so I was trying to have a good shift after that,” Mattheos said. “The d-man lost his stick so I just tried to get around him and once I got past him just tried to find a lane to the net.”

This time, a 3-1 lead that Charlotte watched dissolve on Saturday, proved to be worth it.

Charlotte found itself on the board first just five minutes into the game as right wing Nick Schilkey broke away during a Wolves power play to score the shorthanded goal.

Just 53 seconds later, as its power play expired, Chicago right wing forward Keegan Kolesar was assisted by two Wolves to even things up at 1-1.

Unlike Saturday, when Charlotte scored all three of its goals in the first period, neither team would score again in the first.

“It was a close game. I just watched the chances and it was pretty even again,” head coach Mike Vellucci said. “I thought two teams battled extremely hard.”

The Checkers will now travel to Chicago for games 3, 4 and 5. If the teams split any of the three games, the best-of-seven series will return to Bojangles Coliseum.  

“We’re just a really deep team and the guys here want it bad. They want to win bad,” Mattheos said. “We’re a tight group and I could tell that coming in right away. Guys are willing to do anything for each other.”

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