Checkers Drop Season Opener in Milwaukee
After rallying back from a two-goal deficit in the second period, the Checkers relinquished control of that momentum in the third as they fell 6-3 in Milwaukee to open the 2014-15 season.
Phil Di Giuseppe, Justin Shugg and Zach Boychuk scored for the Checkers, who now travel to Chicago for a pair of games on Saturday and Sunday that complete a three-in-three set. Goaltender Drew MacIntyre stopped 21 of 26 shots in his Checkers debut.
Opening the season on the road for the fifth time in as many AHL seasons, the Checkers found themselves trailing 3-1 early in the second period after the Admirals' Fredrick Gaudreau pounced on a giveaway in the Checkers' zone to create a two-on-one and finished the play himself by patiently skating around MacIntyre. A fight by another veteran playing his first game as a Checker, Kyle Hagel, who earned 12 additional penalty minutes for instigating in the process, may have provided a spark as the visitors then reeled off two goals to tie the game before the intermission.
The first came via Shugg, a fourth-year pro who walked the puck in from the corner and snapped a quick shot over Milwaukee netminder Marek Mazanek's right shoulder to bring the Checkers within one. Eight minutes later, Boychuk, the reigning AHL goals champion with a franchise-record 36 last season, tied it with a deflection of Trevor Carrick's shot from the point, giving the rookie defenseman his first professional point.
The tide turned as early and as strangely as possible in the third, with the Admirals regaining the lead for good after just 22 seconds on a centering feed from the left wall that ricocheted off two Admirals players and floated into the net behind MacIntyre, who didn't see the puck until it was too late. From there, Milwaukee limited the Checkers' attack while continuing to apply pressure on MacIntyre, ultimately breaking through for a goal by Zach Budish with 2:59 remaining followed by a late empty-netter to seal the victory.
Earlier in the game, Di Giuseppe, a rookie who made his pro debut with Charlotte at the end of his collegiate career at the University of Michigan last spring, scored his first professional goal with a blast from the left circle on the Checkers' first power play of the season with eight minutes gone in the first period. That strike canceled out Viktor Arvidsson's opener, a rebound goal on the man advantage, with the Admirals regaining the lead on Pontus Aberg's highlight-reel, coast-to-coast goal later in the first.
With the loss, Charlotte fell to 2-3-0 in regular-season openers. They had won their first game in each of their previous two seasons.
Rookie defenseman Dennis Robertson, who was playing just his second professional game, chipped in two assists ... Di Giuseppe and Greg Nemisz led the Checkers with plus-2 ratings as they, along with Robertson, were on the ice for all three Charlotte goals ... Boychuk had a game-high six shots on goal ... Hagel totaled 19 penalty minutes, just one shy of the team record set by Zack FitzGerald on Jan. 16, 2011 ... The Checkers fell to 9-11-1 all-time against Milwaukee, who they play three more times this season ... In addition to Carrick, forward Carter Sandlak also made his professional debut ... In addition to Hagel and MacIntyre, Ben Holmstrom and Chad LaRose, the latter of whom was playing his first AHL game since December of 2005, also made their Checkers debuts ... Boychuk, Michal Jordan and Jared Staal were the only players in the lineup who also played in the Checkers' first-ever AHL game on Oct. 9, 2010 ... Forward Alex Aleardi and defensemen Austin Levi and Beau Schmitz were the healthy extras for Charlotte.
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American Hockey League Stories from October 10, 2014
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