The Charlotte Checkers are Calder Cup champions.
The Checkers bested the Chicago Wolves by a 5-3 score in Game 5 to capture their first ever American Hockey League championship title. After dropping Game 1 of the Finals in overtime, the Checkers went on to win four straight games, including the last three on the road, en route to the Calder Cup.
"We want to win no matter what. We want to develop, and we want to win. You develop winners. That's what's going to help you at the next level," head coach Mike Vellucci said earlier in the series. "It's great to develop, and we also want to win."
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Charlotte finished atop the AHL regular season standings with a 51-17-7-1 record and 110 points. The Checkers then eliminated Providence (3-1), Hersey (4-0) and the defending champion Toronto Marlies (4-2) in their path to the Finals.
"Everyone wants to play in the playoffs. You dream about that when you're a kid. You're playing mini-sticks, and you're thinking Game 7 in overtime, you want the puck on your stick. That's what you dream about," captain Patrick Brown said ahead of Game 1. "We've got a great group here, and everyone is really excited to be playing playoff hockey."
Andrew Poturalski, the team's leading scorer in both the regular season and playoffs, got the Checkers on the board first in the decisive Game 5.
Rookie Morgan Geekie, who is just 20 years old, scored his eighth goal and 17th point of the playoffs to stretch Charlotte's lead to two in the second period.
Though the Wolves got a goal back late in the second period, Trevor Carrick reestablished the Checkers' two-goal lead in the third period.
Backed by Alex Nedeljkovic's 26 saves in net and a pair of empty-net goals, the Checkers fended off a frantic late push from Chicago - Charlotte was an unbelievable 49-0, including 11-0 in the playoffs, when leading after two periods this season - in a 4-3 Game 5 final.