Checkmate

Charlotte Checkers forward Daymen Rycroft did it again to the Augusta Lynx on Tuesday night.

For the second night in a row, Rycroft scored the game-winning goal in overtime, this time leading the Checkers to a 3-2 victory over Augusta at James Brown Arena.

It gave Charlotte a sweep of the Lynx in the best-of-three ECHL South Division quarterfinal series.

Augusta's Shane Hynes scored with 26 seconds left in regulation to tie it, 2-2, forcing overtime.

Just 4:05 into the extra frame, Rycroft found himself alone in the right circle and unleashed a wrister that grazed Augusta goaltender Dave McKee's left shoulder and clanked inside the post for the game winner.

The Lynx, who lost 2-1 on Rycroft's overtime goal at Charlotte in Game 1 on Monday, were eliminated from the postseason by a first-round sweep for the second consecutive year.

Charlotte, the No. 4 seed, advances to the division semifinals against the No. 1 seed Florida Everblades, likely starting Friday.

The Checkers took a 2-0 lead early in the first period on goals just 1:59 apart.

After McKee made a right pad save on Rycroft's shot through traffic, Nathan Gillies slapped in the rebound stick side at 4:35.

An unlikely bounce led to Charlotte's second goal. McKee left the net to play a puck along the boards, but it ricocheted unexpectedly into the slot, and Blake Bellefeuille was waiting with a wide open net in front of him.

Charlotte, the ECHL's best penalty- killing team this season, also fought off 1:15 of a 5-on-3 Augusta power play in the first. The Checkers killed off all eight Lynx power plays in Game 1, including two 5-on-3 advantages.

Augusta got its favorable bounce 4:24 into the second period to cut their deficit in half, with the score now 2-1.

Ryan Lang's attempted pass through the slot kicked off Charlotte defenseman Kirk DeWaele's leg and slithered through Holt's pads. The 4-on-3 power play goal was the first for the Lynx on 13 tries with an advantage in the series.

The rest of the penalty-filled second period was a display of superior goaltending put on by Holt and McKee, who each came up with standout saves to maintain the one-goal difference.

In the third period, the Lynx managed only one shot on goal for 17 minutes. They responded to the urgency and began creating scoring chances.

Holt sprawled to make a couple of big saves on goal-mouth scrambles with 2:58 and 1:53 left.

On the other end, McKee was helped by a goal post on a hard Checkers shot with 77 seconds left, after which he headed for the bench. for an extra attacker.

Hynes found himself with the puck at the right circle and let loose a rip at Holt, which somehow found a hole for the game-tying goal with 26 seconds left.

Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or steven.l.sanders@augustachronicle.com.

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