Hockey - INACTIVE

Charlotte Checkers coach after latest playoff win: ‘We really haven’t accomplished anything’

The Charlotte Checkers have won four straight playoff games, including the first two games of their second-round AHL series against Hershey.
The Charlotte Checkers have won four straight playoff games, including the first two games of their second-round AHL series against Hershey. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte Checkers’ coach Mike Vellucci says it’s no big deal.

But his team is headed to Hershey, Pa., with a 2-0 lead in the team’s best-of-7, American Hockey League second-round playoff series, winning a pair of games by lopsided scores.

After a 4-1 romp in the series opener Friday, the Checkers came back with a 7-3 pasting of the Bears on Saturday. It equaled the most goals Hershey had given up in a game this season.

Vellucci, however, was not celebrating Saturday evening.

“We have two wins at home, and like I said yesterday, we’re supposed to win those home games,” he said. “We really haven’t accomplished anything.

“We’ve got to make sure we get in there and try to get that first (road) game.”

That will be Tuesday night, with the teams squaring off at 7 p.m. in Hershey.

There are a few reasons for Vellucci and the Checkers to be concerned. Center Clark Bishop, one of the team’s top offensive threats the past two season, was injured in Saturday’s game.

The Checkers’ leading scorer, Andrew Poturalski, was hurt during Friday’s contest and didn’t play Saturday.

And suspensions could be a problem. Two Checkers players received misconduct penalties in the opening two games, and defenseman Dennis Robertson received a match penalty Saturday night after being whistled for an illegal check to the head.

The AHL likely could rule Monday on those infractions and on three Hershey players who have received misconduct penalties in the series.

On Friday, the Checkers raced to four goals in the opening 12 minutes. Saturday night, Charlotte’s blitz came in the final 20 minutes. The Checkers outscored the Bears 4-1 and have totaled 11 goals in two games against a Hershey team that allowed only nine goals in its five-game opening series.

“We got out of the gates quick,” said rookie forward Morgan Geekie, who scored Saturday. “We were playing our game, and things seemed to go our way for the rest of it.”

Tomas Jurco scored twice in the third period and said Charlotte won because it avoided mistakes.

“We didn’t turn the puck over as much as in some previous games,” he said.

Checkers players Kyle Hagel and Trevor Carrick along with assistant coach and former player Geordie Kinnear give an intimate look into fighting in the sport of hockey and the culture of respect it creates.

3 who mattered

Tomas Jurco, Charlotte: Jurco scored two goals and added three assists. It’s the first time any player has scored five or more points in an AHL playoff game in three years.

Nicolas Roy, Charlotte: Roy had three assists. He hasn’t scored a goal so far in the series but has hit the pipes at least twice.

Martin Necas, Charlotte: He scored the Checkers’ second goal and also got the team’s final tally.

Worth mentioning

Alex Nedeljkovic was in goal for Charlotte. The AHL Goalkeeper of the Year, he’d spent much of the past week with the Carolina Hurricanes as they finished their second-round Stanley Cup series.

The Checkers have won four straight playoff games, tying the franchise record set in 2011. They are now 43-0 this season when leading after two periods and are 16-2 at Bojangles Coliseum since Feb. 22.

Vellucci indicated that Poturalski could be back for Game 3, saying he was “day-to-day.” Bishop might be a different story. “It didn’t look good,” he said. There was no update from the team Sunday.

Saturday’s contest started as Fight Night – and then a hockey game broke out. There were at least four pushing/punching battles in the first period. One more fight took place in the third period.

They said it

“You always want to win two home games. I believe that if we play the same way, we should win another two.” – Jurco.

What’s next?

Games 3 and 4 are at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday in Hershey. If a fifth game is needed, it will be at 7 p.m. Friday at Hershey. Game 6, if needed, will be at 5 p.m. Sunday in Charlotte. Game 6 would be at 7 p.m. May 14.

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