The Charlotte Checkers have had plenty of plaudits come their way this season: a 50-win season, a team record 110 points, the American Hockey League’s top goaltender, the league’s coach of the year.
Saturday night in suburban Chicago, they added a Calder Cup championship to that list, the crowning achievement to their outstanding year.
The Checkers won their first-ever AHL title with a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Wolves, taking the lead 91 seconds into the game on a goal by leading scorer and playoff MVP Andrew Poturalski and never looking back. Alex Nedeljkovic made 26 saves as the Checkers won their fourth straight game in the series, going 3-for-3 at Allstate Arena after splitting the first two games in Charlotte.
Morgan Geekie and Trevor Carrick also contributed goals for Charlotte, who followed up their 51-17-7-1 regular season with a 15-4 romp through the postseason. Brooks Macek and Gage Quinney scored for Chicago, the latter with the Wolves’ net empty, and when Wolves coach Rocky Thompson pulled goaltender Oscar Dansk again looking for a second goal to tie the game late, Poturalski hit the empty net for his second of the game.