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Charlotte wins AHL's Calder Cup with Game 5 victory against Chicago

Playoff MVP Poturalski scores two goals to boost Hurricanes affiliate to championship

by Patrick Williams / Correspondent

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- The Charlotte Checkers won the American Hockey League championship with a 5-3 victory against the Chicago Wolves in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals at Allstate Arena on Saturday.

The Checkers, the AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, won the final four games of the series after losing Game 1 4-3 in overtime. They went 15-4 on a postseason run that also included series wins against the Providence Bruins, Hershey Bears and defending Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies.

"I know our guys wanted it really bad," coach Mike Vellucci said. "I didn't want to play any more games."

Checkers forward Andrew Poturalski won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as MVP of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Playing with a broken foot, Poturalski had 23 points (12 goals, 11 assists) in 18 games, including two goals in Game 5.

"We just expect to win, and we went out and did it," Poturalski said. "I couldn't be more proud of all the guys."

Photo credit: Jacob Kupferman/AHL

Charlotte became the first Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers affiliate to win the Calder Cup since 1991 (Springfield Indians). Chicago, the AHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights, reached the Calder Cup Finals in the NHL team's second season.

Alex Nedeljkovic made 26 saves for the Checkers and finished 10-4 with a 2.31 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 15 playoff games.

Morgan Geekie, Trevor Carrick and Zach Nastasiuk scored for Charlotte, which was the AHL's regular-season champion with 110 points and a league-high 51 wins. Geekie led rookies in the playoffs with 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 19 games.

Brooks Macek, Gage Quinney and Cody Glass scored for the Wolves.

Oscar Dansk made 27 saves for Chicago, including on several prime scoring chances for Charlotte in the first period. The 25-year-old led the playoffs in games (19) and tied Nedeljkovic for wins (10).

Poturalski gave the Checkers a 1-0 lead with a tap-in off a pass from Aleksi Saarela on the rush 1:31 into the game. It was the fourth time in the series that Charlotte scored in the first four minutes (2:19 into Game 1, 3:50 into Game 2, and 1:51 into Game 3).

Geekie made it 2-0 with an unassisted goal at 8:25 of the second period before Macek got Chicago to within 2-1 with 25 seconds left in the period when he tipped Tomas Hyka's shot from the slot.

Carrick scored with a shot from left point at 6:15 of the third to make it 3-1.

Quinney got the Wolves to within 3-2 at 16:54.

After Poturalski gave Charlotte a 4-2 lead with an empty-net goal with 1:47 left, Glass made it 4-3 with 39 seconds left.

Nastasiuk scored into an empty net with 16 seconds left for the 5-3 final.

Lead photo courtesy of Charlotte Checkers

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