The Checkers won a wild Game 1 in their first-round series against Hartford, sinking the Wolf Pack in thrilling fashion.

With the game knotted at one and just a shade over five minutes remaining in regulation, the Checkers were belatedly assessed a double minor and sent to a four-minute penalty kill. Charlotte flipped the script on the Wolf Pack, however, when Skyler Brind’Amour broke up their rush in the neutral zone, carried the puck into the offensive zone and fed a pass across to Will Lockwood - who buried it and pushed the home team ahead.

The Checkers successfully killed off the remainder of that Hartford man advantage and snuffed out any comeback hopes as Rasmus Asplund hit the empty net to seal the deal.

The tilt was tightly contested up until those final moments. Each team broke through with a power-play goal in the opening frame - Hartford first from Riley Nash, then a response from Zac Dalpe minutes later - but those would be the only tallies for the next forty minutes of action.

As they did in the regular season, tempers flared between the two sides throughout the contest. Hartford was given six opportunities on the man advantage, and aside from that opening strike the Checkers shut them down. A big part of that success was the play of Spencer Knight, who finished the night with 22 saves.

The Checkers now hold a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three first round series, with Game 2 taking place back at Bojangles Coliseum on Saturday.


Coach Geordie Kinnear on getting the win
We just stuck with it. Great penalty kill obviously, Brindy made a play to Willy and then Willy made a nice move. I just liked how we stuck with it. It was back and forth and it was physical, but I like how our guys stuck with it and found a way to win a hockey game.

Kinnear on the team’s response to adverse periods
Good. When they scored in the first period, I thought we got a little flat there for a little bit. It was a lot of first playoff games for a lot of guys, but they stuck with it and I thought we built our game over time. Again, great penalty kill at the end and our PK had to be good tonight. Knighter was part of that PK and had to be our best guy. Short memory, move on and continue to get better as a group.

Kinnear on the final sequence of the game
I think it’s just the good emotion. You’re supposed to be competitive, and you’re supposed to have emotion, passion and all that wonderful stuff. It’s what makes our game great and what makes playoff hockey for me. You need to control your emotion and not let it affect how you play, but emotion is good.

Will Lockwood on the mood in the locker room
It’s great. I think we stayed composed there. We had a lot of penalties and maybe we didn’t deserve all of them, and I think we stayed composed and took advantage of our chances. There wasn’t much out there but we did a good job.

Lockwood on his winning goal
It was such a good stick by Brindy and then to keep his feet moving throughout the play. To beat the guy with speed and then lay it over to me, he did all the work, I just had to be there. It was a great play by him.

Lockwood on the game
We didn’t get too high or too low. We maybe yelled at the ref a little bit but I think everyone, after we got it in, everyone came back to our game and stuck to it. The penalty kill was obviously great tonight, so it was good.

Lockwood on the key to Game 2
We’ve got to stay level-headed like that. There’s a lot of ups and downs. We want to keep playing for a long time, and we’re going to have to stay composed like that. Play the same way tomorrow, stay level headed and get after it.


This was the first-ever playoff game between the Checkers and Hartford. Including the regular season, the Checkers have won eight of nine match-ups this season … The Checkers went 6-for-7 on the penalty kill and scored on one of their three power plays … Charlotte out-shot Hartford 41-23 … Since returning to Charlotte in 2022, Dalpe has eight goals in eight playoff games … Checkers scratches included forwards Riley Bezeau, Ryan McAllister, Brendan Perlini and Ben Steeves; defensemen Lucas Carlsson, Dennis Cesana and Evan Nause; and goaltenders Cooper Black and Mack Guzda.