Checkers Fall to Comets in Goaltending Duel
CHARLOTTE, NC - The Checkers returned home with a low-scoring battle against Utica, coming out on the wrong end of a 2-1 loss.
The netminders held the spotlight for much of the contest, with Keith Kinkaid turning in 29 stops in his home debut for Charlotte and rookie Michael DiPietro stopping 33 in net for Utica. Both penalty kills stepped up to shut down four man advantages each.
The Checkers were the first squad to break through, as Alexis D'Aoust netted his first as a Checker early on in the opening frame. The Comets found an answer just before the first buzzer, and then it was the league's leading scorer, Reid Boucher, who broke the deadlock early in the second with a quick snipe on the rush.
The home side couldn't convert during their rally attempt down the stretch, firing 14 shots and earning three power plays in the third period alone, and the Comets survived to claim the two points.
Coach Ryan Warsofsky on not being able to tie the game late
We could probably get some more traffic to the net. We could shoot more, for sure. I'm don't know why we're trying to make the cutest play on the ice rather than keeping it simple and getting pucks to the goal line and to the net with some more traffic.
Warsofsky on Utica's goals
It was two bad reads on the goals against. It was something we talked about and have to be aware of. They ended up in the back of our net.
Warsofsky on goaltender Keith Kinkaid
Really good. He gave us a really good start and gave us a chance to win the game. That's all you can really ask.
Warsofsky on the effort
I thought it was good. I actually liked our game. We played hard and had chances to tie it up. I thought there were times when we took control of the hockey game. You just make two bad reads against three really good players on that (Utica) first line and they're going to make you pay. That's what happened tonight.
Roland McKeown on the game
It took us half the game to figure out what they were doing. They have a high-flying offense and they were doing the high flip, wide wing and we couldn't adjust very quick it seemed. By the time we did figure it out, we were behind. They got a couple of two-on-ones and buried them. Things kind of turned around and we had a shift there in the second period where momentum really got on our side and we took it over from there, but ultimately we've got to figure out what they're doing quicker and how to prevent it.
McKeown on generating offense
When you only score one goal it's hard to win. That's just the facts. But saying that, if you play good defense the offense will come. I've been thinking about that since the (trade) deadline a little bit. We're missing some high-power offense, but we showed in Hershey that we can still put up six. If you want to play defense and get solid in your own end, you'll have the puck in possession in the neutral zone leading to offense.
McKeown on challenges of bringing new players together
In the start of the year I would say more so. Right now you're so in the thick of things that you're just going out and playing. These are good players we've acquired. I believe in their abilities and so does the whole team. That's not the issue at all.
McKeown on Kinkaid
Kinks made a lot of save tonight that were important. A lot of second and in-tight chances that he took care of. He was really solid for us back there.
The two teams immediately behind the Checkers in the Atlantic Division playoff race also lost tonight. Springfield dropped an overtime decision to Providence, while Wilkes-Barre lost in regulation to Binghamton. Charlotte still holds a five-point cushion with 18 games to play ... Eight players who were in the lineup for Charlotte's previous home game on Feb. 16 are no longer on the roster ... The Checkers have killed 24 consecutive penalties in their last five games ... D'Aoust's goal was his first as a Checker and first in the AHL in nearly one full year (March 9, 2019). He has two points in his first two games in Charlotte (1g, 1a) ... Defenseman Cavan Fitzgerald left the game due to injury and did not return. Per Warsofsky, he is considered day to day ... Forwards Brian Gibbons and Colin Markison missed the game due to injury ... Forward Blake Winiecki was a healthy extra.
The Checkers and Comets square off again tomorrow at 6 p.m. for Night of Champions.
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