Checkers Come Unglued, Falling To Sea Wolves, 5-4
Charlotte N.C. - The Checkers were making it look easy in the first period of the contest thundering out to a 4-1 lead. However, as the game progressed the playoff hunting Mississippi Sea Wolves grew in confidence and roared back to win by a score of 5-4 while the Checkers tried in vein to recapture the magic of the first twenty minutes.
The Checkers took advantage of a lackadaisical Mississippi team in the first period. The first tally came on a two-on-zero rush down the ice by Ryan Murphy and Matt Shepke. The two Checkers forwards passed the puck a few times before Shepke made no mistake slamming it past a helpless Sea Wolves netminder Ryan Munce at 2:20. Charlotte forward Jeff Miles gave his team a 2-0 lead when his beat Munce between the legs on a breakaway at 7:31. The Sea Wolves got on the board when Jeff Kyrzakos took a sharp angle shot that deflected off the skates of Checkers defenseman Ethan Graham and into the net at 8:28. The Checkers responded with two more goal to end the period and the first was registered on another short-handed rush when Michel Leveille's shot was stopped by Munce, the rebound went right to Mike Bayrack who slammed it home at 11:28 giving his team a 3-1 lead. Checkers forward Matthew Ford struck on a power-play goal at 18:26 giving his team a 4-1 lead and control of the hockey game after twenty minutes.
The Sea Wolves woke up in the second period and scored two goals to make it a one-shot contest entering the final period. During the middle stanza, they received their second goal from Jason Tejchma who beat Jakaitis at 11:29. This was followed up by a nice cross-ice pass by Even Kotsopolous to Mike Berry who redirected the puck past Jakaitis at 13:09. The game was 4-3 for the Checkers entering the final period of regulation.
Mississippi just kept playing strong hockey in the third stanza tying the contest then scoring the game winning goal. First, it was Mark Rooneem at 7:07 blasting a shot through traffic and in locking the contest at 4-4. The game winner was tallied by and Ryan Cruthers at 10:21 and the game would end with a loss of 5-4 for Charlotte.
The Checkers are playing their 16th season of play as a member of the ECHL. The next home game takes place on April 1 against the South Carolina Stingrays at 7 P.M. start. In the team's 15-year history, the Checkers have made the playoffs 11 times including four consecutive playoff appearances to date. The Checkers are in their fourth season of play at Time Warner Cable Arena. For season ticket information, please call 704-342-4-ICE or visit www.gocheckers.com.
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