The Checkers took down the Bruins in dramatic fashion in their regular season finale on Saturday night, claiming the Atlantic Division crown and earning a bye into the second-round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
The goalies were at the forefront for the majority of the contest, as 50 minutes of gametime passed with both sides pumping a ton of rubber on goal but failing to put anything on the board.
It was the Checkers’ captain who came through in the clutch, though, as Zac Dalpe took a quick feed from Aleksi Heponiemi behind the net and crushed a one-timer past Bruins goalie Troy Grosenick to finally break the ice with less than eight minutes remaining.
The Bruins continued to press down the stretch, pulling their goalie for an extra attacker, but Gustav Olofsson made them pay with an empty-net strike from below his own goal line. That would prove to be more than just an insurance marker, however, as the Bruins broke through in the waning seconds of the contest - officially positioning Olofsson’s long-distance goal as the game winner as the horn sounded on the 2-1 final.
Christopher Gibson was a major force between the pipes for Charlotte with 34 saves and over 59 minutes of scoreless hockey.
This is the second division championship that the Checkers have won in franchise history … The Checkers will now have a bye past the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs … Zac Dalpe’s goal made him the fifth 30-goal scorer in franchise history … Christopher Gibson is 3-0-2 in his last five appearances and has allowed one or fewer goals in four of those … Gustav Olofsson’s game winner was his first goal since Nov. 21 … Aleksi Heponiemi extended his assist streak to three games … The Checkers finished their season series against Providence with a 4-2-0-0 record, with five of the six games being decided by one point … Grigori Denisenko and Max Gildon missed the game due to injury … Luke Henman, Dennis Cesana, Zach Uens, Antoine Bibeau and German Rubtsov were healthy extras
Tonight marked the end of the Checkers’ regular season schedule. Their playoff opponent and schedule will be determined based on how the rest of the Atlantic Division shakes out over the next week.