Checkers Come Alive to Capsize Admirals 5-1
MILWAUKEE, WI - While the longest road trip of the season hasn't been kind to the Checkers, it certainly ended with some fireworks as Charlotte throttled Milwaukee by a 5-1 score.
Despite throwing all they had at Milwaukee out of the gate, it took the Checkers half of regulation to finally put something up on the board, with Phil Di Giuseppe sending a bouncing puck careening off a handful of bodies in front and into the net. With that goal, the floodgates opened for the Charlotte offense. Sergey Tolchinsky wired a wicked wrist shot to the back of the net while being taken to the ice not even 30 seconds later to double the Charlotte advantage, then Valentin Zykov deflected home a Jake Chelios point blast in the final minute of the period to give the goal-starved Checkers a trio of tallies through 40 minutes.
Already holding a commanding 3-1 lead heading into the third, the Checkers kept their foot on the gas. Lucas Wallmark extending the lead inside the first minute of the period with a blistering slap shot that found its way through traffic, followed shortly by snipe from the slot by the recently returned from injury Kris Newbury.
Clinging to a formidable advantage, the Checkers rode out the remainder of regulation, thwarting any sort of rally attempt by the home squad and skating away with a 5-1 victory.
With both of its special teams units struggling, Charlotte was able to turn things around against the Admirals. The Checkers' power-play unit, which entered tonight ranked last in the AHL, finally broke through, pumping two goals in on five opportunities to snap a three-game, 0-for-9 drought. On the flip side, the Checkers remained disciplined and handed Milwaukee just one man advantage, which they promptly killed to end a five-game stretch of allowing at least one power-play goal.
It's no secret that the Checkers' offense has been sparse over the course of this long road trip, but tonight the team saw their high-end talent come through. Each of the team's top five scorers recorded at least one point, while Wallmark and Zykov each extended their goal total to a team-best nine. But they weren't the only ones pulling their weight in the offensive zone, as Charlotte's fourth line applied heavy pressure throughout the contest and were eventually rewarded with a hard-fought goal in the third.
Most importantly, the Checkers were able to surpass the vaunted two-goal plateau, recording at least three tallies for just the 12th time this season and improving to a perfect 12-0-0 in those situations.
While the offense stole the show, the Checkers quietly received a stellar effort between the pipes from an unfamiliar face. Making his first start in a Charlotte sweater after playing the third period on Saturday was C.J. Motte, a recent PTO addition. Staring down a high-powered Milwaukee offense, the second-year netminder held his own, turning aside 30 of the 31 pucks thrown at him and picking up both the victory and first-star honors.
The Checkers can now put this long, tough road trip behind them, but the schedule shows them no mercy going forward. They will quickly regroup and prepare to face the defending Calder Cup champion Cleveland Monsters on Friday to begin a season-long, eight-game home stand.
NOTES Lucas Wallmark led all skaters with a career-high three points ... Tonight marked the second time this season that the Checkers have scored more than one power-play goal ... Charlotte is now 7-2-0 when tied after the first period and 8-0-1 when leading after the second ... Dennis Robertson has points in four straight games ... Keegan Lowe and Mitchell Heard dropped the gloves for the second and third times this season, respectively ... C.J. Motte became the fourth goalie to start a game for the Checkers this season ... Erik Karlsson and Josh Wesley were healthy extras ... Brendan Woods, Andrew Miller and Trevor Carrick all missed the game due to injury
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American Hockey League Stories from January 10, 2017
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