The Chicago Wolves surrendered two special-teams goals in Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals to fall 4-1 to the Charlotte Checkers on Wednesday night at Allstate Arena.
Forward Brooks Macek scored the lone goal for Chicago (12-8) while netminder Oscar Dansk (10-7) stopped 22 shots.
Julien Gauthier, Jake Bean, Patrick Brown and Martin Necas scored goals for Charlotte (13-4) while goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (9-4) recorded a postseason-high 38 saves to give the Checkers a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“I thought we gave ourselves an opportunity to win tonight with how we played,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “We just ran into a really good goaltender.”
The Checkers got on the board early in the first when Gauthier threaded a shot through traffic at 1:51, and the Wolves were unable to even the score after 20 minutes despite outshooting Charlotte 15-6 in the frame.
Bean struck 2:16 into the middle period on the Checkers power play, sending the eventual game-winning wrist shot in from the blue line to make it 2-0, before Brown tallied an unassisted shorthanded goal at 11:46 to make it a three-goal advantage.
Macek cut into the lead at the 14:49 mark of the third period, pushing a rebound from defenseman Zach Whitecloud’s shot past Nedeljkovic to spoil the goaltender’s shutout bid.
The Wolves used the momentum and made a furious offensive push late in the third, but Necas responded at 16:55 with an empty-net tally to put the game out of reach for Chicago.
The Wolves and Checkers meet for Game 4 at 7 p.m. Thursday at Allstate Arena. The Wolves also host Game 5 Saturday night.