Charlotte Dominates Wolf Pack 6-0
Charlotte, NC, February 13, 2018 - A Hartford Wolf Pack streak of ten games without a regulation loss ended in a 6-0 defeat to the Charlotte Checkers Tuesday night, in the first of back-to-back games between the two clubs in Charlotte, and the Wolf Pack's first-ever visit to Bojangles' Coliseum.
The Wolf Pack, who had won four straight and were 9-0-1-0 in their previous ten games, were outshot 45-15, including a combined 28-6 in the first two periods.
Brandon Halverson made 39 saves in the Wolf Pack net, in his second straight start, after having made his first AHL appearances of the season in the Wolf Pack's previous game, a 5-2 win at Hershey Saturday night. Halverson helped hold the Checkers to two goals in the first two periods Tuesday, but Charlotte broke the game open with four third-period scores.
Alex Nedeljkovic had his second straight shutout for the Checkers, who had blanked the Springfield Thunderbirds 7-0 at home on Saturday in their last game.
Janne Kuokkanen had two goals and an assist to lead the Charlotte attack, and Valentin Zykov and Lucas Wallmark had a goal and an assist apiece. League points leader Andrew Miller added three assists for the Checkers.
"To be honest, without [Halverson] there, it's probably a 4-0 game after the first ten minutes," Wolf Pack assistant coach Joe Mormina said. "We didn't play well, we weren't ready to play. We weren't engaged, we thought it would probably be an easy game against this team. We turned too many pucks over, and if it wasn't for our goalie tonight, it would have probably hit double digits."
Charlotte outshot the Wolf Pack 10-2 in the first period, and did not allow a shot on their net until the 13:05 mark.
The Checkers opened the scoring on the game's first power play at 9:24.
With Brendan Smith in the penalty box for tripping, Wallmark drove a shot from the left point through a screen that Halverson got a piece of, but could not stop.
The Checkers had another big shots advantage in the second period, 18-4, but Halverson was sharp, holding Charlotte off for most of the period, including a 5-on-3 Checker advantage of 1:21. That was after Dawson Leedahl was called for slashing at 11:21 and Cole Schneider was hit with a cross-checking minor at 12:01.
Shortly after the Wolf Pack got that killed off, though, Miller picked up the puck and the right point and was able to stickhandle his way into the slot, before dishing to the left side to a wide-open Philip Samuelsson. He had virtually the whole net to shoot at and didn't miss, upping the Checkers' lead to 2-0 at 17:48.
Charlotte's big third period started with a Jake Chelios goal at 8:08, making it a 3-0 lead for the Checkers. Clark Bishop rushed down the right side and then dropped the puck to the left point to Chelios, who partially whiffed on his shot, turning it into a knuckleball that handcuffed Halverson.
The Checkers then exploded for three goals in a span of 2:22, starting at the 14:29 mark. That was when Kuokkanen scored his first of the game. Roland McKeown's shot from the blue line was deflected on goal and Halverson made the save, but the rebound came to an unchecked Kuokkanen, and he buried it from Halverson's left.
Zykov, the AHL's leading goal-scorer, upped the lead to 5-0 with his 25th of the year only 1:19 later, at 15:48. After the Wolf Pack failed to break the puck out near the blue line, Wallmark and Miller combined to set Zykov up in the slot. Again, Halverson stopped the initial shot, but Zykov was loose and scored on his own rebound.
Sixty-three seconds after that, at 16:51, Kuokkanen completed the scoring with his second of the game. Kuokkanen pounced on a turnover and went in on a breakaway for an unassisted tally.
After seeing their record fall back to 24-21-4-3 with Tuesday's loss, the Wolf Pack will get another crack at the Checkers on Wednesday night back at Bojangles' Coliseum.
"We're hoping that our group responds [Wednesday]," Mormina said. "We've had a good stretch, and tonight was not a very good game."
Wednesday's rematch faces off at 7:00 PM, and all of the action can be heard live on News Radio 1410 WPOP, and on-line at www.newsradio1410.com and iHeartRadio. Video streaming is available at www.ahllive.com.
The next home game for the Wolf Pack is next Friday, February 23, a 7:15 PM contest vs. the Hershey Bears at the XL Center. As at all Friday-night Wolf Pack home games, fans can enjoy $1 hot dogs and $2 beers through the start of the second period, presented by Dave & Buster's.
Tickets for all Wolf Pack 2017-18 home games are on sale now at the Agera Energy Ticket Office at the XL Center, on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com and by phone at (877) 522-8499.
Season ticket information for the Wolf Pack's 2017-18 AHL season can be found on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com. To speak with a representative about all of the Wolf Pack's many attractive ticketing options, call (855) 762-6451.
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