The Charlotte Checkers are Calder Cup champions for the first time in franchise history and nine OHL graduates helped them pull it off.
After dropping Game 1 of the series to the Chicago Wolves, the Checkers roared back with four straight wins, three of them on the road to become just the fifth team in league history to win an AHL Championship after dropping Game 1 on home ice.
AHL Goaltender of the Year Alex Nedeljkovic (Niagara IceDogs) was a difference-maker, turning aside 26 shots in Saturday’s series-clinching 5-3 road win to finish the playoffs with a 2.34 goals-against average, .916 save percentage and a 10-4 record.
The top affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, the Checkers were led from behind the bench by two-time OHL Coach of the Year Mike Vellucci and had notable contributions from other OHL products in defencemen Trevor Carrick (Sudbury Wolves) and Bobby Sanguinetti (Brampton Battalion).
Charlotte was led in scoring by AHL Playoff MVP Andrew Poturalski who led the league with 23 points (12-11–23) over 18 games.
The league finalist Chicago Wolves are the top affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights. Their top contributor from the OHL ranks was 2018 OHL Defenceman of the Year Nicolas Hague (Mississauga Steelheads) who finished the playoffs with 11 points (4-7–11).
The Charlotte Checkers played to an overall playoff record of 15-4 after a first place regular season finish of 51-17-7-1 for 110 points. The eliminated the Providence Bruins (3-1), Hershey Bears (4-0) and defending champion Toronto Marlies (4-2) before eliminating Chicago in five games to secure their first championship.
The championship is the first on ice in the city of Charlotte since the Charlotte Checkers won an ECHL title in 1996.
OHL GRADS & 2019 CALDER CUP CHAMPIONS
Charlotte Checkers (9):
Trevor Carrick (Sudbury Wolves 2014)
Jeremy Helvig (Kingston Frontenacs 2018)
Janne Kuokkanen (London Knights 2017)
Steven Lorentz (Peterborough Petes 2017)
Roland McKeown (Kingston Frontenacs 2016)
Zach Nastasiuk (Owen Sound Attack 2015)
Alex Nedeljkovic (Niagara IceDogs 2016)
Bobby Sanguinetti (Brampton Battalion 2008)
Zack Stortini (Sudbury Wolves 2005)
Head Coach Mike Vellucci (Plymouth Whalers 2001-14)
For full coverage of the 2019 AHL Playoffs visit theahl.com.