Ryan Murphy gave the Charlotte Checkers hope Saturday night, but Michael Mersch dashed their hopes about eight minutes later.
The Ontario Reign built a two-goal lead through two periods and then held on for a 3-1 American Hockey League victory at Bojangles’ Coliseum.
Paul Bissonnette and Scott Sabourin scored just more than six minutes part during the second period to stake the Reign to a 2-0 lead.
With Valentin Zykov serving a two-minute penalty for high-sticking at the end of the second period, Charlotte opened the third on a power play. After trying twice earlier to beat goaltender Peter Budaj with a manpower advantage, Murphy finally succeeded at 36 seconds of the third to get the Checkers within a goal.
Mersch, however, extended the lead back to two just shy of nine minutes in by getting his shot past Drew MacIntyre.
The Checkers will get a chance to avenge the loss at 5 p.m. Sunday when the teams will meet again in Charlotte.