Islanders vs. Checkers: Round 2 PreviewMay 9, 2022
No. 6 Bridgeport Islanders vs. No. 1 Charlotte Checkers
Islanders | Roster: 31-30-7-4, 73 points (0.507)
Checkers | Roster: 42-24-5-1, 90 points (0.625)
Season series: BRI 4-3-0-1; CLT 4-4-0-0
The Bridgeport Islanders face the Charlotte Checkers in the second round of the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs, continuing Monday at Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte. The winner of the best-of-five series will progress to the division finals.
Charlotte leads the series 2-1
Bridgeport advanced to the second round for the first time since 2003 with a two-game sweep of the Providence Bruins. The Islanders won both games by a 2-1 count in overtime, ending the best-of-three series before it went the distance. Arnaud Durandeau and Aatu Raty each scored a game-winning goal in overtime, while Cory Schneider stopped 75 of the 77 shots he faced. Grant Hutton and Michael Dal Colle had the regulation goals in Games 1 and 2, respectively.
“It’s big, but at the end of the day it’s just a baby step,” Dal Colle said. “We have a lot more to accomplish. I think everyone in the room is confident we can go on a run here. We feel good right now. With goaltending like that, we will have a chance against anyone. [Schneider] played unbelievable in both games. A lot to look forward to with Charlotte and it's going to be a good series.”
The Islanders and Checkers are meeting in the postseason for the first time ever. Charlotte earned a bye into the second round by winning the Atlantic Division’s regular season title. The Checkers went 42-24-5-1 in 72 games and had an identical points percentage to the Springfield Thunderbirds (0.625), but earned the tie-breaker with a higher percentage of regulation wins. Charlotte hasn’t played since its final game of the regular season on April 23rd.
The Islanders and Checkers tangled eight times during the regular season, with each team winning four of those matchups. Bridgeport had points in five of the eight meetings (4-3-0-1) and went 2-1-0-1 against Charlotte at home. Bridgeport outscored Charlotte 24-19. The division rivals haven’t met since Feb. 27th when Andy Andreoff scored twice and Schneider made 37 saves in a 5-3 victory at Total Mortgage Arena.
The Checkers have a dual affiliation with the Florida Panthers and Seattle Kraken this season.
Here's the full schedule for the second-round matchup against Charlotte:
Game 1: Tuesday, May 10 vs. Charlotte, Total Mortgage Arena, 7 p.m. (RECAP)
Game 2: Thursday, May 12 vs. Charlotte, Total Mortgage Arena, 7 p.m. (RECAP)
Game 3: Saturday, May 14 at Charlotte, Bojangles Coliseum, 4 p.m. (RECAP)
*Game 4: Monday, May 16 at Charlotte, Bojangles Coliseum, 7 p.m.
*Game 5: Wednesday, May 18 at Charlotte, Bojangles Coliseum, 7 p.m.
Islanders: Austin Czarnik and Aatu Raty were the only Islanders to record multiple points during the first round. Czarnik had two assists in the Game 2 victory at Total Mortgage Arena, while Raty earned his first North American point (assist) on Monday before scoring the game-winning goal at 12:53 of overtime on Wednesday. He became the first Bridgeport player with more than one career playoff overtime point. Czarnik, who ended the regular season on a five-game point streak, now has 24 points (8g, 16a) in 20 games since returning to the organization from Seattle. Former Checkers forward Chris Terry led the Islanders in almost every offensive category during the regular season. His 30 goals were tied for seventh among all AHL players and his 61 points shared 18th place.
Checkers: Alexander True and captain Zac Dalpe were the top offensive threats during the regular season, helping Charlotte win the Atlantic Division title. True registered a team-high 42 points (18g, 24a) in 60 games, while the 32-year-old Dalpe scored 30 goals, six more than the next highest total from Scott Wilson. Dalpe ended the regular season with seven goals and nine points in his last 11 games. True didn’t have a point in each of his last four games after scoring a goal in four straight prior to that.
Cole Bardreau scored more goals than anyone in the regular-season series, lighting the lamp five times in seven appearances. He was one of four different Islanders to collect seven points in the series (5g, 2a), joining Chris Terry (4g, 3a), Jeff Kubiak (3g, 4a) and Otto Koivula (2g, 5a). Andy Andreoff and Michael Dal Colle each added three goals and four points against the Checkers. Between the pipes, Jakub Skarek made a team-high four appearances against Charlotte and went 2-2-0 with a 1.76 GAA and .939 save percentage. Cory Schneider was 2-0-1 with a 2.60 GAA and .926 save percentage and Ken Appleby also played once (0-1-0, 1.02 GAA, .972).
Kings of the Crease
Islanders: Cory Schneider played in both of Bridgeport’s first-round victories, posting a 0.84 goals-against-average and .974 save percentage in nearly 143 minutes of action. He has played in six of the team’s last seven games dating back to the regular season. He finished with a 14-11-4 record in 30 appearances and went 7-1-2 in his last 10, allowing two goals or fewer in seven of those. Schneider’s .921 save percentage was fifth in the AHL. New York Islanders prospect Jakub Skarek led Bridgeport during the regular season with 37 appearances, going 16-14-4. He was named AHL Goaltender of the Month for January, posting a 5-0-2 record, 1.98 goals-against-average and .935 save percentage that month.
Checkers: Seattle prospect Joey Daccord was one of eight goaltenders who appeared in the Checkers’ crease this season, but he was far and away the busiest netminder for Charlotte. He went 19-11-2 in a team-high 34 appearances, playing more than 1,100 minutes than the next Charlotte goalie (former Bridgeport netminder Christopher Gibson played 14 games). Daccord ended the regular season third among all AHL goaltenders in save percentage (.925) and was fifth in GAA (2.28). Darien native Spencer Knight went 7-4-0 in 11 appearances with the Checkers but is currently on the Florida Panthers Stanley Cup Playoff roster.
Numbers to know
Islanders: Bridgeport won both of its games in the first round by scoring just two goals. It was an unusual situation for the Islanders, who won just twice during the regular season when scoring two goals or fewer (2-20-5-3). Bridgeport was 29-10-2-1 in the regular season when scoring three times or more. The Islanders, who allowed just two goals combined in the first round, finished the regular season tied for 20th in goals against (3.14 per game).
Checkers: Charlotte hasn’t played since its final game of the regular season on April 23rd, a stretch that will hit 17 days between contests. The Checkers ended the regular season ranked fourth in goals against per game (2.74) and allowed two goals or fewer in four of their last five. The only time Bridgeport was shutout all season was Feb. 12th at Charlotte (2-0 loss). In addition, Charlotte's penalty kill was second overall in the AHL during the regular season (85.0%) and led the league on the road (88.7%).
“We’ve shown a lot of resiliency throughout the year that we’re not out of any game, we’ve found ways to come back and ways to win. If I’m able to keep us in it long enough, we generally find a way, and we have these last two games. – Cory Schneider
“We were confident going into the series. I think we play in one of the best divisions in the league. We feel confident against anyone, and we have a deep roster. Our veterans showed up and our young guys showed up as well (in the first round).” – Michael Dal Colle