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Checkers Rack up Four Straight Goals to Take Down Thunderbirds

January 20, 2022 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Charlotte Checkers News Release

CHARLOTTE, NC - The Checkers rallied their way back into the win column Thursday night, righting the ship with a big 4-2 victory over the Springfield Thunderbirds.

Springfield opened the scoring early on and carried that advantage into the later stages of the middle frame, but the Checkers were finally able to kickstart their offense thanks to their most recent addition.

Max McCormick - playing in his first game since returning from the NHL on Tuesday - pulled off a stellar individual effort and wrapped a puck home to even the score after 40 minutes of play and spark the home squad.

The third period belonged to the Checkers, as Zac Dalpe kept the momentum rolling with a power-play strike 67 seconds in to claim the lead and Carsen Twarynski followed it up with a shorthanded breakaway goal to push Charlotte further ahead. An empty netter from Dalpe put the final nail in the coffin for Springfield, and the Checkers pulled off a midweek split against their division rivals.

North Carolina native Billy Christopoulos made his Checkers debut tonight and stood tall, keeping the Springfield offense at bay by making 26 saves and earning the win.


Forward Zac Dalpe on getting the win "We're playing a game every other day, and it can go either way. We had a couple of games slide and then the weather starts getting bad, but the fans showed up and we grinded out a win. No rest for the wicked with a back-to-back coming up, so we'll just keep a good thing going."

Dalpe on the team getting better as the game went on "Geordie came in and had the direction we wanted to go in before the game, and he felt like we didn't do it in the first 20, so he emphasized it pretty good. Without saying what he had to say, it kind of sparked us. The leadership and the older guys and the coaching staff, I think they did a good job and Geordie woke us up for sure."

Dalpe on goaltender Billy Christopoulos "Billy was awesome. He's from Raleigh, so he's a North Carolina kid, he doesn't know anybody on the team when he comes in - it's huge for him. I'm super pumped. He just looked calm as the game went on. I don't know much about the goalie position but he played it well tonight."

Goaltender Billy Christopoulos on playing in his home state "It was awesome. That's a huge team win there. The guys made me feel pretty special tonight being a local guy, and it's a fun team to play behind honestly. They made my life pretty easy, and it's just cool to be here and get that win."

Christopoulos on working with a new team "They're awesome. A lot of the guys came up to me before the game and kind of told me what they like to do and where they like to be. The guys were talking a lot out there which really helped me. It was awesome."

Coach Geordie Kinnear on the game "To be quite honest I wasn't in love with the first period. It was really sloppy and guys were kind of on their own page a little but, but I think we dialed it in after the first. I loved the effort from everybody. I thought everybody played extremely hard. We have another goalie with another victory, and I'm glad for the kid." Kinnear on his message after the first period "We had a game plan, and for some reason we weren't committed to it, but guys deserved to win at the end with the way they played." Kinnear on veteran players leading the way "Max is an important player for us. He plays hard, he makes plays, he scored a big goal. Dalps has been a great pro all the way, plays hard every single day, comes to practice to work and is a leader by example. Your work is always rewarded if you do those things, you just don't know when. Sometimes you go through struggles, but as long as that is consistent things will turn out pretty good for you. Those guys are great examples." Kinnear on Christopoulos "He played great. He caught a couple of pucks and that calmed everything down. I thought he was outstanding. Local kid that came to Charlotte, had an opportunity and made the most of it today."

Notes Christopoulos, a Raleigh native, was the seventh goalie to play for the Checkers this season. That is the most of any AHL team ... Of the 20 players in the Checkers' lineup, just 11 were on NHL contracts. The team had two professional tryouts at forward, three on defense and both goalies ... Dalpe had multiple goals for the third time this season and second in his last four games ... McCormick, who had been with the NHL's Seattle Kraken, played his first Checkers game since Dec. 11 ... Cale Fleury had an assist to extend his point streak to four games (1g, 4a) ... Chase Priskie has three assists in his last two games ... Forwards Grigori Denisenko and Luke Henman, defensemen Max Gildon, John Ludvig and Gustav Olofsson and goaltender Christopher Gibson missed the game due to injury ... Forward Max Zimmer was a healthy extra.

Up Next

The home stand rolls on for the Checkers as they host the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Saturday for an early 4 p.m. contest.

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