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Charlotte Checkers

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Checkers Win in a Goal Fest to Split Series

Checkers Win in a Goal Fest to Split Series

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte Checkers hosted the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Saturday night to finish off the back-to-back series at the Bojangles Coliseum. It was Charlotte FC Night where the team played in Charlotte FC-inspired blue jerseys. Also, the CFC Supporters Section came to the game which gave a massive boost in noise tonight. Plus, it was the Checkers canned food drive night as well. So much going on at the Coliseum tonight in Charlotte, NC. The game would end in a 6-4 win for the Checkers in an absolute barnburner. Here is how we got to the 10-goal onslaught:

First Period

Right from the start, it seemed that the Charlotte Checkers came out on a mission to avenge Friday night’s 3-2 loss to the Phantoms. At the 4:51 mark of the period, Checkers forward Gerry Mayhew would score on the powerplay to put Charlotte up 1-0. Mayhew was the “Johnny on the spot” to collect a loose rebound off of Phantoms goaltender Sam Ersson. The initial shot came from Logan Hutsko in the right faceoff dot but Mayhew was in the right place at the right time.

The goal from Mayhew is his fourth of the season.

About three minutes later, the Checkers would double their lead on a Hutsko goal. Not being able to score on the first one, Hutsko made sure to make up for that with a brilliant one-timer blast from the slot. The passing is what really set up the amazing goal from Hutsko. Lucas Carlsson on the sidewall sent a centering pass to Chris Tierney between three Phantoms players. The no-look, possibly a between-the-legs, pass from Tierney to a wide-open Hutsko gave Logan all the time to slap home the puck to make it a 2-0 Checkers lead.  At this point, Bojangles Coliseum was rocking on Charlotte FC Night with the CFC Supporters in attendance.

This has to go down as a top contender for play of the year with the crisp passing and goal.

Unfortunately for the Checkers, the Phantoms would climb back in the period to tie it two all before the period ended. Both Lehigh Valley goals in the first period came on the powerplay. In total there were three powerplay goals in the first period, two going to the Phantom. Needless to say, the Checkers’ special teams weren’t getting it done on the penalty kill in that period.

Second Period

After a disappointing end to the first period, it was all Checkers in the second period. The Checkers would end up scoring two goals in the period to once again double their lead. At exactly the 14-minute mark of the period, Henry Bowlby gave Charlotte the 3-2 lead on a well-aimed shot going five-hole on Ersson. While surrounded by three Phantoms players, Bowlby just found a way to keep the puck away from all the Lehigh Valley players and just put it in the right spot to regain the lead. The goal was Bowlby’s third of the season.

About four minutes later, the Checkers would regain their two-goal lead for the second time of the night (this was the theme of the game). At the 18:01 mark of the period, Grigori Denisenko pulled off an absolutely perfect fake slapshot to fool the Phantoms player onto one knee. Once the player took the bait, Denisenko would just skate a few feet over and rip a beautiful snipe passed Ersson to make it a 4-2 Checkers lead. That goal could be shown on tons of highlight reels from this season. It’s also Denisenko’s third goal of the year as well just like Bowlby’s.

At this point, the Checkers were feeling good to once again have a two-goal lead and going into the period with the said lead. Although, the third period would become one of the wildest periods of the back-to-back series against the Phantoms.

Third Period

Just 46 seconds into the period, the Phantoms would come within one off of a Jackson Cates goal to cut the lead in half. Luckily for the Checkers, they would once again gain their two-goal lead. At the 3:32 mark of the period, Carlsson would become Charlotte’s fifth different scorer of the night. It was also the powerplay for the Checkers to add even more excitement to the goal. He would join a long list of players tonight to have a multi-point game for the Checkers. He received a perfect pass from Denisenko right in his wheelhouse in the center of the two faceoff dots to rocket the shot home. The one-timer would give Carlsson his third goal of the season and the Checkers breathing room once again.

Later on in the period, the Phantoms would once again get within one goal on the powerplay at the 16:18 mark. The Checkers’ penalty kill had a tough time tonight keeping the pucks out of the net. The penalty kill unit would surrender three powerplay goals on four opportunities for the Phantoms. That will not get it done especially when the Checkers have to face the Hershey Bears next week who are lethal on special teams.

Although, at the 18:55 mark of the third, Anthony Bitetto would become the Checkers’ sixth different scorer of the night to ice the game for Charlotte. It was his first goal of the season as well. The goal would come on an empty-net shorthanded goal and give the Checkers their fourth two-goal lead of the night. That would seal the deal to secure the Checkers’ win to end a wild night. The game ended with ten goals scored between the two teams.

Final Stats

The Charlotte Checkers after Saturday night’s win would put the team 12-6-2-1 on the season. That would put the team at 27 points on the year after 21 games played. The Checkers saw six different scorers on the night. Furthermore, Mack Guzda would end the night stopping 33 of 37 shots that he faced. Denisenko, Hutsko, and Carlsson would end up sweeping the three stars of the game for the Checkers. While the penalty kill did struggle, the Checkers powerplay unit did manage to go 2-for-5 on the night.

What’s Next for Charlotte?

The Checkers get a couple of days off before traveling to Pennsylvania on Tuesday night to face the Atlantic Division-leading Hershey Bears. They will have their rematch next weekend in Allentown as the Phantoms host the Checkers in a back-to-back Friday and Saturday Night. A huge road trip for Charlotte next week with three games on tap.

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