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Early penalty sets tone as the Charlotte Checkers’ season comes to an end in Chicago

The Charlotte Checkers’ season ended Wednesday night as the team never fully recovered from a disastrous start in the deciding game of its American Hockey League playoffs series with the Chicago Wolves. Above, Checkers right wing Danny Kristo, right, stays low in Game 1.
The Charlotte Checkers’ season ended Wednesday night as the team never fully recovered from a disastrous start in the deciding game of its American Hockey League playoffs series with the Chicago Wolves. Above, Checkers right wing Danny Kristo, right, stays low in Game 1. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

The Charlotte Checkers’ season ended Wednesday night after a disastrous start in the deciding game of its American Hockey League playoffs series with the Chicago Wolves.

In the first winner-take-all game of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs, the Chicago Wolves rode a pair of early power-play goals to a 3-2 Game 5 victory against the Checkers.

The game began on a bad omen for the Checkers as they were assessed a bench minor after the game’s first shift for having iced an incorrect starting lineup. Kenny Agostino converted on the ensuing power play 1:50 into the game with his second goal of the series.

Another power play resulted in another Wolves goal, with Andrew Agozzino striking at 4:28 to send Tom McCollum to the bench in favor of Michael Leighton.

Adam Musil scored shorthanded early in the second period to give Chicago a 3-0 lead.

The Checkers began chipping away just over a minute later as Connor Brickley tallied his second goal of the series at 5:09.

Phil Di Giuseppe made it a 3-2 game with 6:34 remaining in regulation but Chicago held on for the win to improve to 8-3 all-time in winner-take-all Calder Cup Playoff games, including 6-2 at home.

Ville Husso (3-2) made 32 saves in the win. Charlotte finished with a 34-19 advantage in shots on goal.

The Wolves will meet the Grand Rapids Griffins in the second round of the playoffs, beginning May 3.

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