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Charlotte Checkers


Checkers Win Second Straight Road Game in Rochester

#AHL | Trying to find some separation in a compact Atlantic Division, @CheckersHockey took a big win over @AmerksHockey on Friday night. @FPHCheckers brings all you the action in his recap

Checkers Win Second Straight Road Game in Rochester

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte Checkers continued their current road trip with a stop in western New York to face the Rochester Americans. Charlotte was looking to continue their winning ways by seeking their second straight win on the road. After 60 minutes of play, the team from the Queen City skated away with a 4-2 win over the Amerks in a hard-fought battle.

First Period

Right from puck drop it seemed like both teams were feeling each other out because, after about three minutes into the game, there was only one shot on goal between both teams. Who had the lone shot-on-goal? It was the Americans within the first three or so minutes into the game. Although, that would change later on in the period. Before that happened, Checkers’ goaltender JF Berube made a spectacular save on a Rochester two-on-one to stop the Amerks cold to keep the game scoreless at 15 minutes left in the first period.

It seemed like all game Berube was just keeping the Checkers in the lead, especially after the 11:18 mark of the period.

Charlotte would strike first in the game on a beautiful goal by Riley Bezeau. Bezeau after receiving the puck from Connor Bunnaman drove on the right side of the ice past an Amerks player keeping his body between the player and the puck. As he was going to the net, Bezeau managed to go from forehand to backhand and sneak the puck through the legs of Rochester’s goaltender Malcolm Subban. The touch and the silky movement by Bezeau fooled Subban and the goal gave the Checkers a 1-0 lead in the first period. Just an overall excellent display of speed, body position, and stick handling to create a great scoring chance for Charlotte to get them the lead.

The goal was Bezeau’s third of the season along with Bunnaman’s fourth assist of the year as well. Plus, Patrick Giles was credited with his fifth assist on the season with the secondary assist on the opening goal.

It wouldn’t take long for the Checkers to double their lead as not even five minutes later, Gerry Mayhew would make it a 2-0 lead for Charlotte at 16:02 in the period. The Checkers were on a two-on-one odd-man rush going into the Americans’ zone as Logan Hutsko found Mayhew with a great scoring opportunity on the right side of the Amerks’ net. Hutsko made a pass through a tight window to Mayhew, who ended up roofing the puck top shelf where grandma hides the cookies to extend the Checkers’ lead to two goals.

An overall great sequence for the Checkers as Mayhew was credited with his 10th goal of the season. Furthermore, it was his fifth goal in the last four games. Hutsko received his 11th assist on the season with Johnny Ludvig getting his eighth as well.

There was a penalty from both teams in the period with each of the teams’ powerplays not being able to capitalize on their opportunities. The Checkers went into the first intermission with a 2-0 lead and leading in shots-on-goal 14 to 5.

Second Period 

The second period was a lot quicker start for the Checkers who kept up where they left off in the first. Charlotte would extend their lead even further just two minutes into the period. At the 2:11 mark, Bunnaman would get his second point of the game on a great tip goal off of a Calle Sjalin shot. Bunnaman just managed to lift his stick up as Sjalin shot the puck toward the Americans’ net and the puck was redirected through the five-hole on Subban to make it a 3-0 lead for the Checkers. It was one of those goals where the guy was in the right place with the right sense of where to put his stick for the redirect.

Bunnaman’s goal was his eighth of the season along with Sjalin being credited with his second assist on the year. Also, Mayhew got his second point of the game which was his 10th assist on the season as well.

The Amerks would eventually figure out Berube as with 42 seconds left in the second period. Isak Rosen would score on the powerplay to make it a 3-1 game. It was the lone powerplay goal the Checkers would give up as they went 3-for-4 on the penalty kill. Not a plus but the team still managed to win the game despite the special teams’ negative stat line.

Charlotte outshot Rochester 10 to 8 in the period and went into the second intermission leading 3-1 after 40 minutes of play.

Third Period

Not sure what was necessarily said in the locker room, but the Rochester Americans came out for the third period with urgency in their skating. Right from the puck drop of the third period, it seemed that the Amerks had intent to not let this game slip from them. The Checkers seemed to have trouble getting into gear as Rochester was all over them in the third period.

The Amerks would bring the game to within one at the 12:07 mark of the third period. Rochester would score on a goal from Aleksandr Kisakov, his fifth of the year, after a scramble by the Checkers’ defense that lead to the score now being 3-2 for Charlotte. It was a goal that Charlotte couldn’t let happen and now they had a game on their hands with an Americans’ team who was down 3-0 now on a two-unanswered goal run.

Thankfully for the Checkers, Berube stood on his head on an onslaught of shots and high-danger chances from Rochester to keep Charlotte in the lead. The Amerks managed to outshoot the Checkers 14-4 in the third period after only having 13 shots – total – in the first two periods combined.

On one of the four shots in the period, Lucas Carlsson called game as he shot the puck off of the board behind his own net in the Checkers’ zone. The puck managed to bounce off the boards, slipping past an Americans stick, and slid all the way into the Amerks’ empty net to ice the game for the Checkers. It would be Carlsson’s eighth goal of the season, and what makes it even better was that it was Berube’s first assist of the year as well.

It’s always good to see goalies getting points in games they especially win after a guy scores a goal from 200 feet away. The game would end in a 4-2 win for the Checkers giving them their second-straight win on the road on Friday night.

Where Things Stand

After Friday night’s win, the Charlotte Checkers are now 22-15-2-2 with 48 points on the season after 41 games played. They are still currently third in the Atlantic Division, three points ahead of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Also, the Checkers are now within seven points of the second-place Providence Bruins. Charlotte plays the Americans again on Saturday night looking to end January on a three-game winning streak before heading to Syracuse next Friday and Saturday.

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