By Cliff Mehrtens
© 2005 Charlotte Observer
It’s a long hockey series, and a lot can happen.
That was Charlotte Checkers coach Derek Wilkinson’s position after his team lost 6-4 to the Florida Everblades in Game 1 of the ECHL semifinals on Monday in Estero, Fla.
Charlotte trails 0-1 in the third straight playoff series. Game 2 in the best-of-7 series will be 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Florida.
“We saw we could compete with them,” Wilkinson said before Tuesday’s practice. “We got some offense, and the mistakes we made are correctable. We came here trying to split, so we still have a chance to do that.”
Florida’s six goals, including five straight that gave it a 6-2 lead, were the most Charlotte has allowed in 10 playoff games.
“We made some bad decisions, and we weren’t good on face-offs,” Wilkinson said. “We gave up way too many chances. But the guys are upbeat. We’ve been through this before.
“We were able to get into Florida’s end, and work the puck around. We made bad decisions in our end, and you can’t do that against a team that good.”
Charlotte’s Kenton Smith, Dwight Helminen and Ryan Lang each had a goal and assist. The Checkers were outshot 44-26, and the five goals allowed by goalie Alex Westlund (in two periods) were more than his past three games combined.