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Charlotte Checkers

AHL Game Recap/Analysis

Checkers Lose in Rout in Phantoms’ 2,000th Game

Checkers Lose in Rout in Phantoms’ 2,000th Game

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte Checkers were in Allentown, Pennsylvania Friday and Saturday night to face the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The two teams played last week in Charlotte where they split that series. This series, however, did not go that way for the Checkers. They got swept by the Phantoms in this back-to-back. On Friday night they lost 2-1. On Saturday, in the Phantoms’ 2,000th game as a franchise, the Checkers lost 6-1.

First Period

It seemed like a pretty even game between the two sides for most of the first period. The Checkers and Phantoms were close in shots on goal for three-quarters of the period. Although, in the last five minutes of the period, it got away from the Checkers fast.

Artem Anisimov got the Phantoms on the board first at the 15:14 mark of the period, with a power play goal, his fourth of the season.  Since joining the team this year, the former Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Champion has stepped up huge for Lehigh Valley. Although, for Checkers goaltender JF Berube, this would be the start of a long night for him. Just over a minute later, the Phantoms doubled their lead after a Kieffer Bellows goal at the 16:25 mark of the period, just a tad over a minute apart from the Anisimov and Bellows goals.

The final goal of the period came at the 19:27 mark of the period. It was also a power play goal that was scored by Tyson Foerster. That was the Phantoms’ second power play goal of the game, and they would end up scoring three on the night. After 20 minutes of play that saw four Checkers’ penalties, the period would end with the Phantoms up 3-0. Not a great start for Charlotte as a whole after one period of play.

Second Period

For the Checkers, the second period wasn’t as bad as the first, but it was not great for them either. At the 6:27 mark of the second period, Linus Hogberg made it a 4-0 game for the Phantoms. The goal was his first in over two years. The Checkers’ defense was leaving Berube out to dry this game and this goal solidified that the rout was on for the Phantoms.

The Phantoms ended up scoring another power play goal at the 14:21 mark of the period. Olle Lycksell scored the Phantoms’ third and final power play goal of the game to take a 5-0 lead. At this point, Anisimov notched his third point of the game (he finished with four on the night).

The Checkers ended the night by giving up three power play goals on seven penalty kill opportunities. It was a very bad night for the Checkers’ special teams, especially the penalty-kill units. After two periods, the Phantoms were outshooting the Checkers 16-12 in shots and winning the game 5-0 at that point. Although, the Checkers would eventually break through in the third period. Sort of…

Third Period

Fortunately for the Checkers, they did not commit any penalties in the third period. It was the only period they were not called for infractions. The Phantoms ended up with five penalties in the period. However, the Checkers would only capitalize on one of those opportunities.

Before that, Anisimov scored his second goal of the game for the Phantoms at the 7:10 mark of the period. He tapped in a rebound after Adam Brooksinitial shot was saved by Berube. The tap-in from Anisimov made it a 6-0 game for the Phantoms and was Anisimov’s fourth point of the game. There was nothing the Checkers could do at that point to slow down the Phantoms.

Although, as mentioned before, the Checkers did capitalize on one of the six power plays they had in the game. Assistant captain, Riley Nash, with some really good hand-eye coordination, scored on a between-the-legs tip-in goal off of a Grigori Denisenko shot. The goal was Nash’s eighth of the season and snapped the Sam Ersson shutout bid. That would be the lone goal for the Checkers.

The game did end on a weird note as the Phantoms’ Hayden Hodgson received a 10-minute game misconduct while his team was winning 6-1. The game ended with a Phantoms 6-1 win on their 2,000th game as a franchise. The Checkers outshot the Phantoms 22-20 in the game despite giving up three power play goals in the process.

Final Notes

After Saturday night’s loss, the Checkers have dropped four of the last five since the start of December. They’re also 1-3 this season against the Phantoms, who they’ve played four times in the last nine days. The Pennsylvania road trip was not nice to the Checkers, losing all three games on the road. The Checkers are now 12-10-2-1 on the season with 27 points after 25 games played. They are still a point ahead of the Phantoms despite the sweep.

What’s Next for Charlotte?

Charlotte is off until next weekend when they will face the Rochester Americans at home on Friday, December 16th, and Saturday, December 17th. The Checkers have a week to figure out what went wrong in Pennsylvania and get ready for a stretch of a couple of weeks of home games, from the 16th of December to the 23rd. After the Americans, they will face the Providence Bruins at home as well. Those will be huge games, as the Americans sit second in the North Division, while the Bruins are second in the Atlantic Division.

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