Islanders Drop Series Opener to Checkers 3-2May 10, 2022
The Bridgeport Islanders suffered their first loss of the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs on Tuesday, falling 3-2 to the Charlotte Checkers in Game 1 of their second round series at Total Mortgage Arena.
Gustav Olofsson broke a 2-2 deadlock with 3:20 to play in the third period, as Charlotte completed a three-goal comeback after falling behind 2-0. Austin Czarnik scored both goals for Bridgeport in the first period, while Alexander True answered with two in the second for the Checkers.
Charlotte leads the best-of-five series 1-0.
“It’s not the result we wanted,” Bridgeport Head Coach Brent Thompson said. “Guys competed hard, I thought it was a pretty evenly matched game. Shots were pretty tight and I tagged a few chances in there, they were really even. Obviously, a few cleanup points and we will move forward.”
It was a disappointing finish for the Islanders, who jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, seemingly taking advantage of a Checkers squad who hadn’t played in 17 days after earning a first-round bye.
Czarnik opened the scoring at 5:46 of the first period, driving to the net and knocking a cross-ice feed from Arnaud Durandeau past Joey Daccord. Czarnik scored his second goal of the period at 12:36, scooping up a loose puck at the side of the net after Michael Dal Colle put a centering feed into traffic.
That capped a solid first period for the Islanders, who managed to hold the Checkers without a shot for more than half of the frame, ultimately outshooting Charlotte 11-8 early on.
The division-leading Checkers found their footing in the second period, as True beat Cory Schneider with a weak-side one-timer for a power-play goal at 6:59 to put Charlotte on the board. True netted his second goal of the game at 15:04 of the middle frame, as Max McCormick intercepted an Islanders turnover deep in the defensive zone and quickly fed True before Schneider could get set.
True’s tying goal came just after the Islanders failed to score on an extended two-man advantage. Czarnik came close to a hat trick, but was robbed by Daccord on a cross-crease feed from Chris Terry. Bridgeport ultimately went 0-for-3 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill.
“We had three grade-A chances on that five on three and their goalie made a heck of a save on one in particular,” Thompson said. “So obviously we’re disappointed that we didn't score there and that's something that the power-play guys take pride in, being the go-to guys to score.”
Tied 2-2, the Islanders had their chances to re-take the lead. Simon Holmstrom had a chance in tight on Daccord early in the final frame. As the game wore on, the Checkers pressed, outshooting the Islanders 9-6 in the third period, the only time they’d outshoot the Isles. Charlotte eventually broke through, with Olofsson putting a shot through traffic and ultimately past Schneider at 16:40.
While a Game 1 loss was a setback, the Islanders maintained there were positives to take from it and the team plans to turn the page.
“There are four more games,” Czarnik said. “We know it wasn't our best, so I think if we come out, give it our best, we have a good chance. I feel like they took it to us a little bit there in the second and third, but we know we have more in the tank and this is a gritty team that can make some noise.”
Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday night at 7 p.m. inside Total Mortgage Arena.