CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Chicago Wolves ranked among the American Hockey League’s top five teams in scoring during the regular season, but came up empty in Game 1 of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.
The Charlotte Checkers earned a 4-0 victory in the opener of the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals on Thursday night as center Lucas Wallmark produced two goals and one assist while goaltender Tom McCollum posted 20 saves at Bojangles’ Coliseum.
It marked just the second time the top-seeded Wolves suffered a shutout during the 2016-17 season. The fourth-seeded Checkers held a 2-0 lead after two periods, then added two insurance goals in the waning minutes.
Charlotte broke on top 11:27 into the first period as left wing Brendan Woods roamed toward the slot, collected the carom from Trevor Carrick’s shot into traffic and swatted the puck home.
The Checkers doubled their margin with 7:44 gone in the second period as a Wolves turnover in their own end led to Wallmark’s first goal. Andrew Miller collected the turnover in the right circle, spied Wallmark speeding toward the net and fed him for a quick redirect just outside the crease.
The Wolves cranked up the pressure during the third period and earned a handful of solid scoring chances, but Miller pushed the lead to 3-0 with 3:51 to play when he fired a blast that deflected off a defenseman’s stick and past Wolves goaltender Ville Husso (23 saves). Wallmark added an empty-net goal with 37 seconds to play.
The Wolves and Checkers meet for Game 2 at 6:15 p.m. Friday in North Carolina. The series comes to Allstate Arena for Game 3 at 2 p.m. on Sunday and Games 4 and 5 on Tuesday and Wednesday. For all ticket and Calder Cup information, visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.