Faced with a do-or-die Game 3, the Checkers rose to the occasion, steamrolling the Phantoms 6-0 to advance to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

After a tight first period, the Checkers mounted a stunning surge in the middle frame and quickly buried the Phantoms. All in all, the home team racked up five straight tallies across that 20-minute stretch, starting with a Patrick Giles snipe from the bottom of the circle.

After that broke the ice, the Checkers incrementally added to their lead - Riley Nash, Dominic Franco and Henry Bowlby each chipped in loose pucks from out front, then Cam Morrison picked a corner on a late man advantage to cap off the five-goal avalanche in the period. Connor Bunnaman would then make it an even six with the lone tally in the third, wrapping things up with a shorthanded tally for good measure.

While the offense was throttling Lehigh Valley, J-F Berube was putting on a clinic between the pipes. The visitors pumped 31 shots at the Charlotte netminder across the 60 minutes, and the veteran turned each one aside - claiming his second career Calder Cup Playoff shutout and sending the Phantoms packing.


Coach Geordie Kinnear on the game
The start of the game was a feeling-out process a little bit and you worry about legs and the emotion of last night. Then after Patty scored we definitely got to our game, which was important, and then I thought we took over the game after that.

Kinnear on not letting the Phantoms back into this game
We just honestly talked about how we play and that was our focus. We wanted to do it one shift at a time like we had talked about yesterday. That’s what they did. They stuck to it. We lost some guys for an extended period of time and guys stepped up. Guzda last night played a great game and was dehydrated after the game, and then J-F comes in and shuts the door. That’s what good teams do. They have the depth. We’ve got to continue to keep getting better because obviously we have a huge challenge ahead of us.

Kinnear on those players stepping up
You need everyone to chip in, and honestly, everybody has done it all year. You go back to it, and Nasher wasn’t here for a period of time and Keppen and Bezeau stepped in. Now you have Franco coming up from the East Coast league and Morrison has been unbelievable in this series. It’s everybody. I hate talking about individuals because for me it’s such a good group of guys and such a tight-knit team.

Kinnear on Berube
He's been there. He’s been a guy that waited all year. If you go back to the start of the year, he worked hard, worked hard. He was the third goalie and didn’t get a lot of action and I’m sure there were some frustrating days for him but he stuck with it. Then you get an opportunity like that and you’ve got to make the most of it. I’ll go back to probably the first thing I ever said to you. When you work hard, good things happen. You just don’t know when. He worked hard, and a good thing happened to him tonight.

Kinnear on playing at home
It's great fans. Last night was electric and then today, electric. It’s the best time of year.

J-F Berube on how it feels to win
It feels good. Guys are tired, I’m sure. I’m not as tired as they are because they had a long night last night, but we stuck with it. We practiced hard all year for this time of the year and we didn’t want to waste it. We did a really good job tonight making sure we were on the right end of it.

Berube on his experience
My experience helped me a lot with settling in earlier in the game and making sure I’m making those saves at key times. Again, the guys played unbelievable in front of me. Having goal support always helps to allow the goalie to settle in, and we did that tonight.

Berube about holding the lead once they got it
It’s about sticking to our game plan, making sure we put the puck deep and work them hard down low. Like I said, it was a long night last night and the team that spends the most time in their zone, usually they work a little bit harder to try to get it out. I thought all four lines were rolling this evening and we did a really good job.

Berube on staving off elimination twice
We’re going to be put in challenging situations in playoffs, and this was our first test. Just the confidence we came out with is huge for our group. We know we can play in those big games and we saw a lot of guys stepping up and putting their best foot forward. We just have to build from it. It’s just one series, and we have a goal to win the cup and make it all the way to the end. Right now we’re going to enjoy it but it’s back to business tomorrow.

Berube on his shutout
I’m just happy to win. Obviously getting the shutout is the cherry on top, but as a goalie I just want to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s 4-3 or 2-1, as long as we get the win at the end of it.


This tied the Checkers’ largest-ever margin of victory in a playoff game, another 6-0 win against Lehigh Valley on May 5, 2018 … The Checkers are now 2-5 all-time when facing playoff elimination. These two victories were their first ever in that situation … Berube’s shutout was the second of his playoff career and first since 2014 with Manchester. It was the sixth playoff shutout in team history … Santtu Kinnunen and Aleksi Heponiemi each tied the team record for assists in a single playoff game (three) … Checkers scratches included forwards Xavier Cormier, Kai Schwindt, Riley Bezeau, Josh Davies, Mark Senden, Ethan Keppen, Jake Wise, Skyler Brind’Amour and Wilmer Skoog, and defenseman Dennis Cesana.