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Photo: Gregg Forwerck

Checkers bounce back, even Finals with Game 2 win

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (theahl.com) … The Checkers didn’t let this one get away.

Tomas Jurco‘s tiebreaking goal late in the second period proved to be the difference as Charlotte defeated Chicago, 5-3, in Game 2 of the 2019 Calder Cup Finals at Bojangles’ Coliseum on Sunday evening.

Tied at a game apiece, the series now shifts to suburban Chicago, where the Wolves will host Game 3 on Wednesday night (8 ET, AHLTV, NHL Network, NHL Network Radio).

Chicago got an early power play in Game 2 but it was Charlotte drawing first blood as Nick Schilkey beat Oscar Dansk on a breakaway at 3:50 of the opening period. It was Schilkey’s first goal of the postseason and the Checkers’ fifth shorthanded tally in their last five games.

The Wolves pulled even just 53 seconds later as Keegan Kolesar found himself alone in front and he slipped the puck past Dustin Tokarski for his sixth goal of the playoffs at 4:43.

Charlotte struck twice in a 14-second span to grab a 3-1 lead early in the middle period. Nicolas Roy was credited with his fourth goal of the playoffs at 5:34 when Haydn Fleury‘s shot hit him and redirected past Dansk, and Stelio Mattheos chipped in his third playoff goal at 5:48.

But just as they did a night earlier, the Wolves erased a 3-1 deficit and tied the contest back up. Gage Quinney scored both goals, banging home a feed from Jake Bischoff at the 7:00 mark and then getting behind the Checkers defense and backhanding a shot over a sprawling Tokarski at 11:13.

The Checkers took their third lead of the night with 1:07 left before the second intermission as Jurco, a Calder Cup champion with Grand Rapids in 2013, took a shot from the bottom of the right-wing circle that just crossed the goal line behind Dansk.

Charlotte held Chicago to just four shots on goal in the final period, and iced the win on Andrew Poturalski‘s empty-net goal with 59.6 seconds to go.

Tokarski finished with 20 saves on the night, improving to 11-0-0 in 11 starts as a member of the Checkers.

Dansk made 26 saves in the loss for Chicago.

NOTES: In addition to Tokarski getting the call in place of Game 1 starter Alex Nedeljkovic, each team made one lineup change: Jesper Sellgren drew in for Bobby Sanguinetti on the Charlotte blue line, and Ryan Wagner replaced Tobias Lindberg for Chicago… Tokarski is now 5-0 all-time in Calder Cup Finals games; he backstopped Norfolk to a sweep of Toronto in 2012… Chicago went 1-for-3 on the power play, scoring their first power-play goal since Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals vs. San Diego… Charlotte was 0-for-3 with the man advantage… The Checkers have not played from behind yet in the series; the Wolves’ only lead came thanks to their overtime goal in Game 1… Attendance was 8,378.

2019 Calder Cup Finals (best-of-7)
A1-Charlotte Checkers vs. C1-Chicago Wolves | Series Infographic
Game 1 – Sat., June 1 – Chicago 4, CHARLOTTE 3 (OT) | Recap/Highlights
Game 2 – Sun., June 2 – CHARLOTTE 5, Chicago 3
Game 3 – Wed., June 5 – Charlotte at Chicago, 8:00, AHLTV, NHL Network
Game 4 – Thu., June 6 – Charlotte at Chicago, 8:00, AHLTV, NHL Network**
Game 5 – Sat., June 8 – Charlotte at Chicago, 8:00, AHLTV, NHL Network
*Game 6 – Thu., June 13 – Chicago at Charlotte, 7:00, AHLTV, NHL Network
*Game 7 – Fri., June 14 – Chicago at Charlotte, 7:00, AHLTV, NHL Network
*if necessary… All times Eastern
**delayed broadcast