Wolves rally to take Game 1 in overtime
CHARLOTTE -- Stefan Matteau scored 5:30 into overtime to lift the Chicago Wolves to a 4-3 victory over the Charlotte Checkers in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals on Saturday night at Bojangles' Coliseum.
Matteau and defensemen Zac Leslie and Zach Whitecloud scored in regulation for the Wolves (12-6), who are playing in their seventh Finals in their 25-year history. Oscar Dansk (10-5) posted 35 saves.
Matteau fired his game-winner from the left circle as Checkers goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic got a piece of the low shot, but not enough to prevent it from going in the net.
"It was a weird feeling," Matteau said. "I think (the puck) hit the ref or something and we kept it in. It seemed like everybody lost track of it and it fell right in front of me, so I just grabbed it, saw I had space, took a couple steps and luckily it squeaked by."
Charlotte (11-4) opened the scoring just 2:19 into the best-of-seven series on defenseman Trevor Carrick's power-play goal. Matteau answered with a redirect of a Griffin Reinhart shot at 5:54, but the Checkers added tallies from defenseman Roland McKeown and forward Andrew Poturalski to take a 3-1 lead after one period.
The Wolves pulled even during the second period when Leslie whistled home a wrister from above the right circle at 11:27, then Whitecloud authored a slap shot from the point that rose through traffic to make it 3-3 with 5.7 seconds left in the period.
Nedeljkovic (8-4) stopped 32 shots.
The Wolves and Checkers meet for Game 2 on Sunday at 5 p.m., then the Wolves host the next three contests at Allstate Arena starting with Game 3 Wednesday night.