Checkers Close in on 'Clones, Even Series

CINCINNATI, Ohio – The Charlotte Checkers got a pair of goals from Matt Schepke and an 18 save effort from Ryan Munce to upend the Cincinnati Cyclones 4-1 on Friday night. Brett Robinson scored the Cyclones lone goal on a shorthanded penalty shot in the second period.

With the defeat, the Cyclones and Charlotte are tied in the best of seven American Conference Semifinals series at two wins each. Game five will be tomorrow night (April 24) at U.S. Bank Arena at 7:30pm. Game six will be played in Charlotte at Time Warner Cable Arena at 7pm on Tuesday (April 27). That game will be heard on ESPN 1530.

Charlotte scored the only goal of the opening period, as Matt Schepke led a three-on-one charge into the Cincinnati end and ripped a shot from the right wing side. Schepke's third goal at 19:14 was unassisted and came from the right side faceoff circle. The shots favored Charlotte, 11-4, in the opening term. The first period displayed a chippy nature—as 22 penalty minutes were whistled in the frame. All told, 50 minutes and a pair of fights would be happen during the night.

The teams exchanged goals in the second period and Charlotte held a 2-1 edge. Cincinnati would net a shorthanded penalty shot goal from Brett Robinson at 7:42 of the period. With the Cyclones shorthanded, Robinson intercepted a pass in the Checkers zone and got loose on a breakaway up the left wing side. He was hooked from behind by Trevor Hendrikx who kept him from getting off a shot. On the penalty shot—Robinson converted for his third goal of the playoffs. Henridkx would get his second goal of the postseason at 15:05 when he ripped a shot from the top of the left circle from Mike Taylor and Michel Leveille. The shots would again favor the Checkers, 11-8.

Charlotte grabbed a 3-1 edge when Schepke netted his second of the night and fourth of the postseason at 8:57. Andrew Carroll and Randy Rowe had the assists. One minute later at 9:57, Jared Nightengale got his first of the playoffs from the right wing side. Aaron Slattengren and Leveille had the assists. The shots favored Charlotte, 10-7, in the period and 31-19 for the game.

Ryan Munce took the victory with an 18 save effort. Jeremy Smith took the loss for Cincinnati with a 27 save performance. The Checkers were zero-for-five on the power play, while the Cyclones were zero-for-four with the man-advantage.

The game followed the Cyclones script of results in the postseason. Cincinnati is 5-0 in odd numbered games in a playoff series (games one, three, five and seven) and is winless (0-3-1) in even numbered games.

Charlotte won the South Division title and American Conference regular season championship by posting a 43-21-8 record. The Checkers were a conference-best 25-8-3 in games at the Time Warner Cable Arena. Charlotte is the number one seed in the conference playoffs and knocked out Toledo in the opening round of the postseason in four games. Cincinnati finished as runner-up in the North Division with a 44-25-3 record and upended the fourth-seeded and defending Kelly Cup champion South Carolina Stingrays in five games. The Cyclones are the fifth-seeded team in these American Conference playoffs. Cincinnati is the only team in the ECHL to have advanced to the second round of the Kelly Cup playoffs in each of the past four seasons