It was win or go home for the Phantoms on Friday evening. And despite a strong effort, the valley would not be rallied. It was the J-F Berube show that allowed Charlotte to skate away with the 6-0 shutout victory.
This came after the double overtime game where Lucas Carlsson scored to keep the series alive for the Checkers. Tyson Foerster had given the Phantoms the 1-0 series lead with two goals in the first game.
There were a few lineup changes for both teams heading in. Cal O’Reilly and Louie Belpedio came out for the Phantoms, though the latter was due to an injury. Will Zmolek and Jackson Cates made their series debuts.
Berube got the start for the Checkers in place of Mack Guzda, who has started the first two games. Guzda did get pulled in the opening game and has given up eight goals. So Charlotte going to the veteran ended up being the right call.
The Phantoms had the better of the play to start. Bobby Brink found Elliot Desnoyers early on who ended up being robbed by the right pad of Berube. It wasn’t the first time Berube would rob Desnoyers. It would happen again late in period after a Olle Lycksell takeaway sent him into the zone. Berube got the pad out once more.
Charlotte had some chances in the opening period as well. Mackie Samoskevich and Cory Conacher came in on a 2-on-1 but ended up whiffing on it. Samoskevich likely could’ve shot it but passed instead. Conacher didn’t seem like he expected it.
Samoskevich had a golden opportunity in the slot in the period but he missed the net. Carlsson’s blast with 10 seconds left was gobbled up by Sam Ersson, who looked strong after almost 100 minutes of play last night.
The Phantoms started off the second just as they did the first, but it was Charlotte who took the only lead they needed just over three minutes into the second period. It was Patrick Giles who got the shot over the shoulder of Ersson for the 1-0 lead.
The Checkers took a 2-0 lead thanks to Riley Nash. It was Samoskevich who made the nice move in the zone and got the shot off on Ersson. The rebound came out to Nash who went backhand and in. Two goals on three shots in the second for Charlotte.
Dominic Franco made it 3-0 for Charlotte. Santtu Kinnunen had the first shot from the high slot. Franco jumped on the rebound as his shot squeaked through the five-hole of Ersson. Henry Bowlby made it 4-0 as the Checkers got a lot a lot of pressure on Ersson. They peppered him with at least two or three shots before Bowlby got it to go in.
And that ended the night for Ersson as he gave up four goals on 15 shots. Nolan Maier would play his first game since April 2. It would become 5-0 on the goal by Cam Morrison. Maier was without his goal stick as Morrison came in on the rush on the power play.
To put icing on the cake or salt in the wound if you will, former Phantoms forward Connor Bunnaman scored shorthanded to make it 6-0 in the third. Bunnaman had five points altogether in the three game series.
The Phantoms hadn’t been down by more than four goals during the regular season. They also hadn’t been shutout either. Both of those happened in this one as their season comes to an end.