Checkers send Bridgeport packing with 4-0 win
Daccord’s shutout, McCormick’s hat trick sink Isles, push Checkers to next round
Press release provided by the Charlotte Checkers
CHARLOTTE, NC – The Checkers stepped up and shut down Bridgeport in Monday’s Game 4, sending the Islanders packing with a decisive 4-0 win.
With their 3-1 victory in the best-of-five series, the Checkers will now advance to the Atlantic Division Finals to face the Springfield Thunderbirds.
Coming off of a tough loss in Game 3, Charlotte wasted no time establishing itself in the rematch as Max McCormick pounced on a Bridgeport turnover in the corner and deposited it into the net just 61 seconds into the contest.
The Checkers’ initial surge - which included outshooting the Islanders 14-6 in the first - produced another tally before the first buzzer, with Aleksi Heponiemi springing Zac Dalpe on a breakaway and the captain pulling off a slick backhand move to double the lead.
The goaltending would steal the show from there, and Charlotte’s two-goal advantage would prove to be plenty. Joey Daccord, making his fourth consecutive start of the postseason, turned in a perfect performance between the pipes by turning aside all 21 shots that came his way.
In desperation mode late in regulation the Islanders pulled their netminder for an extra attacker, but McCormick made them pay twice - cashing in for two empty-net strikes to complete his hat trick and catapult the Checkers into the next round.
Coach Geordie Kinnear on the series win
“It was a very tough team, very experience and very hard to play against. A lot of respect for that group. We played them a lot and have coached against them a lot, and they do an unbelievable job, but I’m proud of our guys.”
Kinnear on what worked better tonight than in Game 3
“We played more to our identity. We were playing together as a group and more in sync. We pride ourselves on not beating ourselves and it got away from us a little bit last game with giving up odd-man rushes and breakaways. That’s not a recipe for success, but tonight was.”
Kinnear on McCormick
“Maxy has been a driver all year long, so for him to get it I’m not surprised. He’s been an unreal competitor and an unreal player for us and a great teammate. Obviously his work was rewarded tonight.”
Kinnear on Daccord
“Joey brings a confidence to our group and is a very motivated and very focused individual. I’m proud of him, but it’s all about the team and how the team played in front of him. Everyone was going tonight.”
Forward Max McCormick on the series win
“It feels great to get that win obviously. That was a good series with some hard-fought games. It was a good team over there and they played hard. I’m just happy to close it out.”
McCormick on the team’s effort tonight
“I think we just had all four lines going, shift after shift and period after period. We just stuck to our game the whole night and obviously it paid off.”
McCormick on Joey Daccord
“He gives us a lot of confidence back there. He was huge on the PK tonight and gave us some big saves in big moments. He gives us a lot of confidence and we know we can always count on him to make big saves back there.”
Goaltender Joey Daccord on the win
“We’re just excited. We have high expectations for ourselves. We’re really happy to get through this one. That’s a really tough team over there and they’re tough to put away. Up until today every game was a one-goal game. It’s a tough team and we really came together this week and put together some good games.”
Daccord on the team’s defensive effort
“We just did such a good job in the D-zone of limiting their chances. We must have set a record for blocked shots tonight. I felt like everything was getting blocked on the way in. Shoutout to our D and our forwards. It felt like the whole game I was yelling, “Nice block.” I didn’t have to do a whole lot, so it was nice.”
Daccord on playing every game this series
“Every game is a new opportunity to play your best and help the team win. We have such a great team, and I emphasize team because top to bottom every forward, defenseman and goalie we have is so deep. I feel like I’m just part of the team and I’m trying to do whatever I can to help the team win.”
McCormick’s hat trick was the third in team playoff history and the second this series. Dalpe had one in Game 2 and Aleksi Saarela had one in the second round against Hershey in 2019 … Daccord’s shutout was the fifth in team playoff history and the first since Alex Nedeljovic in the first round of the 2019 playoffs against Providence … These were McCormick’s first three professional playoff goals … Dalpe ranks third in AHL playoff goal scoring with five … Dalpe has goals and points in three straight games (6g), Aleksi Heponiemi has points in three straight (1g, 2a) and Connor Carrick has points in three straight (4a) … John Ludvig played his first professional playoff game … Grigori Denisenko and Max Gildon missed the game due to injury … German Rubtsov, Dennis Cholowski, Dennis Cesana, Max Zimmer, Zach Uens, Justin Nachbaur, Ryker Evans, Luke Henman, Antoine Bibeau and Evan Fitzpatrick were healthy extras.
The Checkers’ third-round series against the Springfield Thunderbirds begins on the road on May 22.
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