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Charlotte Checkers

AHL Game Recap/Analysis

Checkers Earn Point in Shootout Loss

#AHL | An weekend Atlantic Division battle between the @WBSPenguins and @CheckersHockey culminated in a shootout on Sunday. Who returned to the Charlotte lineup? Who made the difference for WBS? @FPHCheckers has this and more:

Checkers Earn Point in Shootout Loss

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – On a sunny Sunday afternoon, the Charlotte Checkers hosted the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to finish off a two-game weekend set. The Checkers secured a victory on Saturday’s Star Wars Night 3-1 to set the stage for Sunday’s tilt. Meanwhile, the Penguins came into Sunday looking to split the set as the Checkers did back in Wilkes-Barre last weekend. Ultimately, the Penguins would get revenge on the Checkers and split the series like the Checkers did winning 3-2 in the shootout. Here is how the Sunday afternoon “Hockey is for Everyone” game transpired:

First Period

The first period didn’t see any scoring, but both teams had some Grade-A chances. However, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ Filip Lindberg and Checkers’ JF Berube stood tall for both of their teams. It is worth noting the Checkers defenseman Johnny Ludvig is back to wearing a regular visor helmet instead of the full-cage helmet that he was wearing after getting back from injury.

Both teams had a good set of back-and-forth play without many stoppages in the period. There were a total of three penalties in the period, with the first period ending with the Checkers’ on the penalty kill. Checker’s Matt Kiersted was called for tripping with around a minute left in the period, which carried over into the second period.

The period ended with the Checkers leading in shots-on-goal ten to six.

Second Period

While the first period was scoreless, the second period was other than that. Both teams ended up scoring in the period, with the Penguins breaking the ice first. At the 1:06 mark of the period, Drake Caggiula scored first, giving the Penguins the lead. He took a few strides into the Checkers’ zone, loaded up, and snipped the puck far side past Berube to make it a 1-0 game for Wilkes-Barre. It ended up being Caggiula’s seventh goal of the season, along with Alex Nylander being credited with his 14th assist. Furthermore, Mitch Reinke received his 13th assist of the season as well.

Although, the Checkers would not have to wait long to tie the game up just over three minutes later. At the 4:41 mark of the period, Matt Kiersted used his body as a backboard after Zac Dalpe tried to center it in front of the net to him. Kiersted streaked into the zone as Dalpe was looking off a Penguins player in the corner. Dalpe kept his head on a swivel and saw Kiersted going to the net. He threw it in front of the net and banked the puck off Kiersted’s body. The puck snuck its way past Lindberg and into the net. As they say, “throw the puck on the net, and good things happen”, and that was certainly the case for the Checkers.

The goal was Kiersted’s first of the season, and Dalpe was credited with his sixth assist on the season. A great welcome back for both Kiersted and Dalpe. The period ended tied at 1-1, with the Penguins leading in shots-on-goal 21-16.

Third Period

Just like the second period for the Penguins, the Checkers came out of the gates to start the third period clicking on all cylinders. It only took a minute and twelve seconds for the Checkers to get their first lead of the night. Aleksi Heponiemi was circling around the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton net, looking to center the puck to Riley Nashwho was in the slot with some players near him. Although, the puck slid under his stick blade to a wide-open Lucas Carlssonwho was alone near the blue line by the point. Carlsson was wide open for the one-timer, and he blasted the shot past Lindberg to give the Checkers a 2-1 lead. Lindberg had no shot of stopping the puck; that’s how fast and hard Carlsson shot it into the net glove side.

The goal was Carlsson’s second in back-to-back games against the Penguins. That is one way to stay hot as a defenseman. It ended up being Carlsson’s sixth of the season, along with Heponiemi’s 11th assist of the year.

As the game progressed, there seemed to be a small build to the intensity and physicality between both teams. The period seemed to have the impression of tempers starting to flair when the officials didn’t make some calls that should have been made while some shouldn’t have been called. Both teams started to get under each other’s skin as the period progressed. The intensity peaked at the 9:18 mark of the period when the referee didn’t call a penalty on the Penguins that looked like a charging. That non-call led Dominic Franco from the Checkers to come in to stick up for his teammate, who got hit from behind. That was subsequently called for interference, and the Penguins went on their sixth power play.

From the vibes around the arena, there was a sense that maybe both instances should have been called. Ultimately, the Checkers went on the penalty kill and were scored on. The power-play goal didn’t take long to achieve, coming at the 9:43 mark of the third period, with Valtteri Puustinen slotting it past Berube to tie the game up at 2-2. That goal seemed to change the momentum of the game after what seemed like all Checkers in the third period. Puustinen was credited with his 14th goal of the season, along with Reinke’s 14th assist and Nylander’s 15th of the season. That was Reinke and Nylander’s second assist of the game, each guy getting the primary and secondary assists on both regulation goals for the Penguins.

The period ended up tied, so both teams gained a point, and the game went into overtime.

Overtime & Shootout

The overtime frame of the game saw plenty of high-danger chances for both teams because it was three-on-three play for five minutes. Both teams did not score in the five minutes of extra play, and the game went to a shootout.

For the Penguins, the shootout takers were Nylander and Lukas Svejkovsky. The Checkers countered with Anton Levtchi, Dalpe, and Gerry Mayhew.

The first round ended with Levtchi getting his shot saved while Nylander would roof it top shelf on Berube for a good goal. In round two, both Dalpe and Svejkovsky scored on their attempts. The third round saw Mayhew missing his shot, ending the game with the Penguins winning 3-2 after 65 minutes of hockey plus the shootout.

Charlotte ended up getting a point but splitting their weekend series with the Penguins as they did in Wilkes-Barre last weekend.

Post-Game Interviews

After the game, the media met Charlotte Checkers’ head coach Geordie Kinnear and Carlsson.

Kinnear:

FPH – “Getting Kiersted and Dalpe back, how big is that for the Checkers having them back on the team especially contributing tonight?”

Kinnear – That is what he [Dalpe] does, he’s a Charlotte Checker through and through. Give him a lot of credit right for where he is in his career, worked hard, had a great year last year. Got called up to the National Hockey League. I don’t know how long he was up there, almost a month and a half, two months maybe. Good for him but we’re always excited to get our captain back. He’s a big part of what we want to do down here. Everyone is excited to have their captain back.”

Carlsson:

FPH – “Back-to-back games with goals in each game; how is the confidence right now seeing how the play is going for you after those two goals, especially that massive shot you had in the third period?”

Carlsson – “Yeah it’s good, it’s always fun to produce some offense. When playing on the powerplay that is what I should do. So the confidence is good.”

What’s Next?

The Charlotte Checkers’ will enjoy some time off before games on Saturday, January 21st, and Sunday, January 22nd, against the Cleveland Monsters. After playing four games this past week, it will be a welcoming break for the Checkers going into a two-game home weekend set versus the Monsters.

Currently, the Checkers sit 19-14-2-2 with 42 points on the season after 37 games played. They are in third place in the Atlantic Division, nine points behind the Providence Bruins and one point ahead of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The Checkers look to keep the point streak going against the Noth Division’s Monsters next weekend to keep their fight strong to make the 2023 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs.

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