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Checkers Finish 2014-15 Season on High Note

April 18, 2015 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Charlotte Checkers News Release

In a season that ultimately didn't produce enough victories, the Checkers saved a good one for last.

Against a Grand Rapids team that entered the night with a chance to clinch the top spot in the Western Conference, the Checkers, long eliminated from playoff contention, set a season high for goals scored with a 7-3 victory on Saturday.

Rookies Phil Di Giuseppe (one goal, three assists) and Trevor Carrick (four assists), who became the only Checkers skaters to play in all 76 games, led the way with career-best, four-point performances while Justin Shugg, Brock McGinn, Alex Aleardi, Chad LaRose (two) and Mario Lamoureux provided the other goals. Drew MacIntyre made a season-high 49 saves as the league's best offensive team provided a better fight than the final score might indicate.

The Checkers, who entered the night 29th in the league in terms of total goals scored, also set a season high for power-play goals in a single game, having scored on each of their first three opportunities.

After Grand Rapids forward Kevin Porter opened the scoring in the first period, just as he did in the Griffins' 2-1 win in Friday's prequel, the Checkers were able to rattle off five unanswered goals thanks in large part to a power play that entered the game with just one goal in its last 26 opportunities.

Shugg, who finished the season as the Checkers' scoring leader with 43 points, started things off with a blast from the left circle to tie the game with approximately five minutes left in the first period. Just over two minutes later, McGinn gave Charlotte a lead it would not relinquish when he fired a shot from the half wall as he fell that went off a Griffins defender and in past starter Tom McCollum.

Additional power-play goals by Aleardi and LaRose, who tipped in point shots by Carrick and Dennis Roberston, respectively, started the second period off right, with Aleardi's marker chasing McCollum from the game in favor of Jared Coreau. Lamoureux, who scored two goals in three games with the Checkers after signing a professional tryout contract earlier in the week, then put home an excellent setup by Di Giuseppe to continue the onslaught and make the score 5-1.

Even with the score so lopsided, the Griffins, and in particular scoring leader Andy Miele, fought back with two goals to make the score 5-3 with six minutes remaining. However, Di Giuseppe's fourth point of the night just seconds after the Checkers' fourth power-play expired ended the would-be rally, with LaRose adding his second of the night and 20th of the season into the empty net with 27 seconds remaining.

The ability to end on a high note not withstanding, the Checkers will finish 13th in the Western Conference, the lowest final ranking of their five AHL seasons, and miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

The Checkers finished the eight-game season series with the Griffins with three victories. Despite the loss, Grand Rapids still had an opportunity to win the Midwest Division title depending on a later result involving the Rockford IceHogs.

NOTES

The Checkers scored three power-play goals for the first time since going 4-for-10 at Iowa on March 26 of last season ... They finished the season on a run that saw them kill 28 of their last 29 penalties ... Di Giuseppe led the Checkers with 174 shots on goal this season. He entered Saturday's game tied for third among AHL rookies in the category ... Carrick, who scored 17 of his 32 points since March 1, finished third on the team in scoring. He led AHL rookies with 13 power-play assists ... Josh Wesley, a Raleigh native and son of former Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley, made his professional debut ... The Checkers were the only AHL team that did not record a shutout all season ... Forwards Zach Boychuk, Ben Holmstrom, Greg Nemisz, Jared Staal and Brody Sutter and defenseman Haydn Fleury missed the game due to injury ... Defenseman Roland McKeown was a healthy extra.


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