Recap: Checkers 7, Islanders 6 (2OT)May 12, 2022
The Bridgeport Islanders showed a lot of heart on Thursday night, but their game ended in heartbreak after falling 7-6 in double-overtime to the Charlotte Checkers in Game 2 of their best-of-five series at Total Mortgage Arena.
The Islanders rallied from a 4-0 hole in the first period to take a 6-6 game into double-overtime, but Zac Dalpe completed a hat-trick at the 3:36 mark to give the Checkers a 2-0 series lead.
Game 3 is Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Queen City. The Islanders must win to extend their season.
“It’s disappointing, obviously it's not the result we wanted,” Bridgeport Head Coach Brent Thompson said. “No one's happy in the locker room. You can take that game and learn from it. It was we great character builder. There was no quit in this team.”
There was total chaos at Total Mortgage Arena in the first period on Thursday night.
The Islanders and Checkers combined for eight first-period goals, with the Checkers holding a 5-3 edge after 20 minutes of play.
The dam burst early, with Charlotte opening a 4-0 lead by the 12:49 mark of the first period. It started fast, as Dalpe began the scoring at the 53-second mark, stepping into a slapper from the right dot while Matt Kiersted beat Cory Schneider through a screen at 4:09 to make it 2-0. Serron Noel and Cole Schwindt scored 1:26 apart to make it 4-0 and chase Schneider, who allowed four goals on nine shots, from the game at 12:49. He was replaced by Jakub Skarek, who stopped 31-of-34 in his first AHL playoff action.
Things seemed bleak for the Islanders, who’d only scored two goals in each of their three previous playoff games, but Bridgeport began chipping away at the four-goal deficit.
Simon Holmstrom put the Islanders on the board first, one-timing an Austin Czarnik pass behind Joey Daccord at 15:11. Michael Dal Colle finished off some down-low work from Andy Andreoff and a feed from Aatu Raty to give Bridgeport some hope at 15:27. Kyle MacLean officially made it a game with a shorthanded breakaway at 16:04.
That would have been a crazy enough period, but Dalpe’s second of the period – a power-play goal – was the capper, leading to the 5-3 scoreline.
To put it in perspective, only 12 games in Bridgeport’s 68-game playoff history have featured more goals than the first period of Thursday’s affair.
The second period produced only a quarter of those goals, but both of Bridgeport’s buries came via the Czarnik-Chris Terry connection. Terry hit Czarnik with a cross-ice feed at 1:17 of the second period to make it 5-4 and Czarnik returned the favor late in the period, feeding Terry for the tying goal.
“It just shows how much character is in that room and you know, for us to battle back, 4-3 then 5-3, and 5-5, and then tie it up in the end and force overtime,” said Czarnik, who had four points (1G, 3A) in the game. “It just speaks volumes of the work ethic and how this team prepares and plays. We’re not happy with the result but you know, you just have to build on it. And that's what we're going to try to do here.”
The division rivals traded goals again in the third period, as Connor Bunnaman reestablished the Charlotte lead with a screened shot through traffic at the 3:07 mark. That put Bridgeport back in chase mode, before Robin Salo’s power-play goal tied the score 6-6 at 8:39 of the third.
By the time the game got to OT, both teams had four even-strength goals, a power-play strike and a shorthanded tally. So it was only fitting that both teams had a disallowed goal in the first overtime, with both Cale Fleury (5:13) and Cole Bardreau (8:54) getting goals waived off.
That sent the game into double-OT, where Dalpe completed his trick, keeping, shooting, and scoring on a two-on-one rush.
Despite being down 2-0 in the series, as it shifts to Charlotte, the Islanders maintain their belief hasn’t wavered.
“We've been battling all year,” Thompson said. “Everyone wrote us off from the beginning of the year on - except the people in this room and organization. Outsiders have written us off and we’ve been chasing it. We were eight games below .500, we battled back and found a way to go to playoffs. We found a way to win the first round. We're going to find a way to win a hockey game.”
“At times it was a little sloppy tonight and we know what we have to do to clean it up,” Thompson said. “We have the horsepower and it's just one game. All we have to worry about is one shift at a time and one period.”