ROSEMONT, Ill. – Connor Brickley netted the game-winning goal at 9:28 of overtime and Tom McCollum made 38 saves as the Charlotte Checkers edged the Chicago Wolves 4-3 Sunday night at Allstate Arena to take a 2-1 advantage in the Central Division Semifinals of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Forwards Kenny Agostino, Adam Musil and Ty Loney scored for the top-seeded Wolves, who face a must-win situation in Game 4 of this best-of-five series on Tuesday at Allstate Arena. Chicago battled back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 before falling.
“We all know that things happen,” said Wolves head coach Craig Berube. “We keep pushing. We attack. We’re an aggressive team. Both teams battled hard, competed hard.”
The opening period was scoreless until 15:15 when Charlotte defenseman Philip Samuelsson lasered a shot through traffic that found its way behind Ville Husso (1-2) for the 1-0 lead.
With 46 seconds left in the frame, Charlotte doubled its lead when Andrew Miller netted his third goal of the series. Miller rushed up the left wing and snapped a shot that got between Husso and the post on the near side.
The Wolves wasted no time in the second session and got on the board just 24 seconds into play. Defenseman Jordan Schmaltz set up behind Chicago’s net and fed a pass to captain Chris Butler near the blue line. Butler caught Agostino flying up the right wing. Agostino cut in near the slot for the Wolves’ first goal.
“Our leaders did a good job of refocusing us in the locker room,” Agostino said. “We started playing our game, which is fast-paced north-south hockey.”
Only 1:48 later, Chicago erased Charlotte’s lead – tying the game at two – as Musil followed Schmaltz’s shot to McCollum’s doorstop and chipped in the rebound.
The Checkers jumped out to a 3-2 lead 2:03 into the third frame when Charlotte pressured the Wolves deep in Chicago’s defensive zone. From atop the crease, Patrick Brown shoveled a backhand chance over Husso.
Once again, the Wolves responded quickly. Loney notched the equalizer just 1:32 later when Agostino led the rush and left the puck for Loney on the left wall. Loney picked it up and skated in near the same-side hashmarks for a shot that hit twine.
In the extra session, the Wolves’ best chance came at the 8:16 mark when Andrew Agozzino got behind the Charlotte defense for a breakaway chance that he could not slip around McCollum (2-1).
Charlotte defenseman Roland McKeown stopped a Chicago clearing attempt along the right boards and put a shot on net that Brickley ultimately punched past Husso for the victory.
Husso made 30 saves in just his third North American postseason game.
The Wolves and Checkers return to action on Tuesday (April 25) at Allstate Arena. Game time is 7 p.m., and the contest can be seen live on The U Too throughout the Chicago area. If necessary, Game 5 will be 7 p.m. on Wednesday (April 25) at Allstate Arena and also broadcast live on The U Too.
For ticket information on upcoming home games or an update on the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs, visit ChicagoWolves.com.