By Cliff Mehrtens
© The Charlotte Observer
The site changes, but the physical play likely won’t.
The Charlotte Checkers, leading 2-0 in the best-of-seven ECHL first-round playoff series against the South Carolina Stingrays, will switch to North Charleston for Games 3 (Tuesday), 4 (Thursday) and if necessary, 5 (Friday).
Game3 will be at 7p.m. on Tuesday at North Charleston Coliseum.
Charlotte won the first two games at home by 5-3 scores, and both were filled with hitting and penalties.
“I was pleased with our physical play and special teams, which were pretty good the first two games,” Checkers coach Derek Wilkinson said. “We did what we needed to getting to the spots we needed to be in.”
Game2 had 93 penalty minutes, including 57 against South Carolina. The Checkers capitalized with three power-play goals, and held the Stingrays scoreless on eight power plays.
Charlotte scored twice on the power play in Game1, and limited South Carolina to 1-of-6 on its power play. The fast start was a mental boost for a team struggling the past month to maintain a lineup ravaged by injuries and call-ups.
“Obviously it helps leading 2-0, but it’s going to be tough,” Wilkinson said. “But you win the first two, and at least you know you can win. We’re not going there just hoping, we know what to do to win, and we know we’ve got a chance to win the series.”
Wilkinson said the keys will be goaltending and getting off to a good start.
The Checkers jumped to a 2-1 lead in Game1. South Carolina led 1-0 after one period in Game2 before Charlotte scored five straight goals in the second period.
Charlotte’s Mike Bayrack has six points (two goals, four assists), which leads ECHL playoff scorers. Michel Leveille has a goal and four assists, and Matthew Ford, Marty Guerin and Ethan Graham have two goals apiece.