Checkers Beat Bears 4-1 in Front of Sold-Out Crowd
CHARLOTTE, NC - The Checkers put on a show in front of a sold-out crowd Tuesday night, thrashing the Bears 4-1 to pick up their eighth win in the last nine games and move into a playoff spot.
The newest Checker kickstarted the offense as Oliwer Kaski crushed a one-timer on a two-man advantage in the first, then joined the rush for a snipe from the slot early on in the second.
The visitors finally showed some life late in the second, but that would be their only time beating Anton Forsberg, who finished the night with 26 saves in a strong, bounce-back performance between the pipes.
The Checkers iced things with a strong third period, as Janne Kuokkanen earned his third assist of the night when he set up a beauty of a finish by Dave Gust. Hershey would opt for an extra attacker as one last attempt at a comeback but Steven Lorentz made them pay, hitting the empty net and sending the packed house home happy.
Coach Ryan Warsofsky on bringing success from the road trip back home
I thought our start was critical. It was a really good start by our guys and the energy was there. We were really detailed and focused on how we needed to play, and we did a good job.
Warsofsky on playing against Hershey
They're a hot team over there. They can score, they've got some experience, they've got some younger players that are good, their D are good and their goaltenders are good. They're a really good hockey team, and we talked about that. If you take a breath against these guys, like we did when they scored, they're dangerous. Besides that little five-minute glitch there in the second period, I thought we had a really good effort tonight.
Warsofsky on the addition of Oliwer Kaski
It brings another dynamic offensively. He can drive offense from the blue line down and joins the rush. That second goal was impressive. He's got a deadly shot on the power play. He's come a long way in just a short period of time here, so positive thoughts for him.
Warsofsky on Janne Kuokkanen
When he's moving his feet and he's engaged in the hockey game, whether that's being physical or understanding what's going on without the puck, he's done a really good job competing for 50/50s and now he's getting more possession. He's been really good here lately.
Warsofsky on keeping the momentum going
We just focus on tomorrow. We're not worried about next weekend, the road trip, the All-Star break or Mike Vellucci coming to town. We're just going to be focused on our first shift tomorrow.
Oliwer Kaski on joining the Checkers
It's been really great. It feels like I've been here way longer than the time I've been here. It's a great group of guys and it's really easy to come in here.
Kaski on getting involved offensively
That's what they want from me. From day one they told me they want me to join the rush and move the puck a lot. I think I've done that and I've got some confidence from that.
Janne Kuokkanen on the team's confidence level
We had a really good roadie and our confidence level raised. We're happy, and I hope we're going to play like this tomorrow too.
The Checkers won for the 12th time in their last 15 games since Dec. 7. They now occupy a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division, having passed idle Springfield tonight ... Both Charlotte and Hershey entered tonight's game with eight wins in their last 10 games. The Checkers are now 2-1-0 against Hershey this season ... Kaski has eight points (4g, 4a) and a plus-6 rating in 12 games since joining the Checkers via trade. This was his first multi-goal game of the season ... Kuokkanen has 17 points (4g, 13a) in his last 14 games. This was his second three-point game of the season ... The Checkers scored on the power play for the fourth straight game. They are 5-for-12 (41.7 percent) during that time ... Dave Gust has scored two points in three of his last four games ... Steven Lorentz has five multi-point outings in his last nine ... Julien Gauthier's nine-game point streak came to an end. It was the longest by a Checker this season ... A total of 6,850 hot dogs were sold to a sellout crowd of 8,359 on the Checkers' third annual 1950s Night ... Forwards Clark Bishop, Stelio Mattheos and Kerby Rychel missed the game due to injury ... Defenseman Cavan Fitzgerald was a healthy extra.
The Checkers and Bears face off once again tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
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