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Charlotte Checkers


Checkers Lose in OT against Bruins

#AHL | @CheckersHockey started a three-games in-three-states stretch Friday, picking up a point in an OT loss to @AHLBruins. @FPHCheckers recaps how everything shook out.

Checkers Lose in OT against Bruins

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte Checkers started their three games in three different states in three days road trip on Friday in Providence, RI against the Bruins. Charlotte looked to win its second-straight game and kick off the road trip in style. The Bruins would end up winning 6-5 in overtime.

First Period

The first period saw both teams feeling one other out with minimal scoring chances and just trying to set a tempo on either side. While the penalties didn’t start until almost halfway through the period, some goals were scored early. The Checkers would strike first at the 3:19 mark of the period. On the Checkers’ fourth shot of the game, defenseman Lucas Carlsson skated above the faceoff circles and shoot the puck on the net. Luckily enough for him, he had a couple of teammates by the net to give Bruins’ goaltender Brandon Bussi a hard time seeing the puck. Carlsson would end up sneaking the puck past Bussi giving the Checkers a 1-0 lead early into the game.

The goal was Carlsson’s 11th of the season. Furthermore, Aleksi Heponiemi was credited with his 22nd assist of the year along with Ethan Keppen getting his second. Unfortunately for the Checkers, it would only take eight seconds for the Bruins to tie the game back up at 1-1. Right off the faceoff, the Bruins entered the Checkers zone and just managed to get it past Mack Guzda to level the scoring. The goal was credited to John Beecher which was his fifth of the season.

The period ended with Providence outshooting Charlotte 12-11 and the score tied 1-1.

Fiesty Second Period

While there were only two goals and five penalties in the first period, the second period took it to another level. There were a total of five goals and seven penalties in this period. It seemed like after every whistle, there was pushing and shoving. This was a period that the referees probably wish that it ended sooner than it did.

The main highlight of this period was Mike Reilly getting three of his four points (two goals and one assist) of the night. Carlsson would add his second goal of the night to give the Checkers a lead once again at the 2:53 mark of the period. That goal would come 31 seconds after the Henry Bowlby goal, which tied the game back up at 2-2. The Reilly, Bowlby, and Carlsson goals were all scored in the first three minutes of the period. Charlotte went from 2-1 down to 3-2 up in 1:52.

There were so many other goals in this period that it’ll take until next year’s All-Star Classic to get through it all. To make it easier, here is a table showing the goal scorers and the Checkers’ goal highlights will follow it.

Time of Goal Goal Scorer Primary Assist Secondary Assist
1:01 Reilly Joona Koppanen Dan Renouf
2:22 Bowlby Heponiemi Matt Kiersted
2:53 Carlsson Calle Sjalin Heponiemi
8:25 Georgii Merkulov Fabian Lysell Reilly
14:49 Reilly Oskar Steen Beecher

The Checkers would tie the game up at 2-2 off of a Bowlby goal that would spark a momentum swing for Charlotte.

Not even 31 seconds later, Carlsson would add his second goal of the night to give the Checkers a lead once again making it 3-2 Charlotte. This was a massive momentum swing after going down 2-1 earlier in the period.

It goes without saying that Heponiemi would use the second period to give him two of his three assists on the night. Heponiemi had a sneaky good game despite the onslaught of goals in the game and the feistiness of both teams. Providence would go into the second intermission with a 4-3 lead. The Bruins were leading in shots on goal 21-19 after 40 minutes of play.

Thrilling Third Period

After a wild second period, the third period saw the intensity rise as both teams kept getting into scrums throughout the period. It got to the point where the refs were ready for this game to end. Although, as the period proceeded the intensity only grew after each goal was scored.

At the 10:58 mark of the period, the Checkers’ leading scorer Riley Nash would do Riley Nash things and once again tie the game up for Charlotte. Initially, Anthony Bitetto ripped the shot above the faceoff circles as he was trying to get the puck at the net. Being at the right place at the right time, Nash would lift his stick and redirect the puck passed Bussi to tie the game up at 4-4 for the Checkers. Nash was being Mr. Clutch once again for Charlotte as they dominated the third period in shots and pressure.

The goal was Nash’s 18th of the season followed by Bitetto being credited with his eighth assist on the year. Although, the game wouldn’t be tied for long. At the time of the goal, Reilly had fans and broadcasters feeling that he had the game-winning goal. Reilly scored his third goal of the game, giving him a hat trick, in which every goal was a slapshot to make it more interesting. The goal was Reilly’s seventh of the season. Also, Marc McLaughlin was credited with his 12th assist on the season, and Beecher got his 10th assist on the year along with his fourth point of the night.

As the time wound down, it seemed like the Reilly hat trick goal would be the game-winner for the Bruins. Although, the Checkers would dash those hopes away with 47 seconds left in the game. The Checkers had pulled Guzda with over a minute and change left in the period for the extra attacker. While in the Bruins’ zone, Dennis Cesana would pass the puck over into Kiersted’s wheelhouse to set him up for the one-timer. Kiersted wound up and ripped the puck past Bussi to tie the game up once again 5-5. The slapshot by Kiersted gave Bussi no time to stop it and provided some extra life for Charlotte late into the game. The goal was Kiersted’s fourth of the season. Cesana was credited with his 10th assist of the year followed by Gerry Mayhew receiving his 13th assist as well.

The goal would salvage a point for the Checkers as the game went into overtime tied 5-5. Charlotte outshot Providence 13-4 in the third period. The Checkers scored two goals in the period to force free hockey for the fans in Providence.

Bruins Win It

Despite the comeback late in the third period, the Bruins ended up winning the game in overtime. The goal came at the 2:02 mark of the period off of the stick of Jakub Lauko for his 10th goal of the season. The goal was the game-winning goal and securing the second point for Providence. The goal would also end up giving Beecher his fourth point of the night and his 11th assist of the season.

The Checkers managed to get a point at least in a wild 11-goal game featuring 32 penalty minutes (21 to the Checkers). Although, Charlotte’s penalty kill did manage to go 6-for-7 on the night even though the powerplay went 0-for-2 in the process.

What’s Next?

The Checkers move onto the Bridgeport Islanders Saturday night to continue their three games in three states in three days road trip. The puck drop in Bridgeport is set for 7 p.m. Eastern followed by the Checkers going to Springfield to face the Thunderbirds on Sunday. The game on Sunday starts at 3:05 p.m. Eastern.

Charlotte is currently sitting at 63 points after 51 games played. They’re seven points ahead of Springfield, who is in fourth place with 56 points in 50 games played. Sunday’s game will be a huge indicator if Charlotte can widen the gap on Springfield which essentially is a four-point game at this point. Where the teams are at now in the season every game matters in the final stretch of the season. Charlotte needs to get a bounce-back win on Saturday against the Islanders before they worry about the Thunderbirds on Sunday.

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