Checkers Take Down Rochester 4-2
CHARLOTTE, NC - The Checkers stayed hot and took down the Rochester Americans Tuesday night by a 4-2 final.
After starting off on the wrong foot and surrendering a goal just 41 seconds in, the Checkers regrouped and turned the momentum back in their favor starting with a strike from their captain Roland McKeown. Minutes later Julien Gauthier burst up the center of the ice and slid a puck through Amerks' goalie Andrew Hammond to give Charlotte a lead heading into the first intermission.
The back-and-forth contest swung back the visitors' way in the middle frame, as Rochester wired one in to set up a tight race down the stretch.
The Checkers turned up the pressure in the third, outshooting their opponents 13-8, and it was the red-hot Morgan Geekie who pushed them back on top by finishing off an impressive wrap-around effort from Spencer Smallman and reclaiming the lead for the home team.
The Amerks couldn't break through down the stretch, stymied by Alex Nedeljkovic and his 26 saves, and Julien Gauthier deposited his 25th goal of the season in to the empty net to secure Charlotte's victory.
Coach Ryan Warsofsky on the game
I really liked our third period. We only had them for one chance against, and I thought that was important. We really pushed, and I honestly I think our fourth line helped us play a little better. I didn't love their start, but they got going in the third period and gave us a little momentum there. I think that helped a lot.
Warsofsky on shutting Rochester down in the third period
It's important that we've learned how to win and how to play that way. We've had situations throughout the season where we've sat back on our heels, and we didn't really didn't sit back on our heels even when we were up. I thought that was good that we were making the small little plays, and we were making winning plays. That's what you need this time of year.
Warsofsky on Julien Gauthier
He has elite speed. It's a sight to see. If you're a fan, he's someone you come and watch. He's so powerful, he's the fastest skater on the ice and he can make things happen when he has the puck on his stick.
Julien Gauthier on the game
We just stuck to it. We talked in between periods about what we needed to do. Sometimes we just step off the gas pedal a little bit and they have an opportunity to come back, but we talked about it and I think we did a great job in the third.
Gauthier on his recent scoring surge
I just try to show up every game. Sometimes they don't expect the speed, but I'll take it. I try to use my strength, and it's working.
Gauthier on continuing the home stand
It's a big stretch for sure. I think it's our biggest of the year. We've just got to stay focused, have short practices and recover as much as you can.
The Checkers have won four in a row for the third time this season, all of which have taken place since Dec. 22. They have an overall 14-4-0 record since that date ... The Checkers are third in the Atlantic Division with at least two games in hand on all of the teams behind them ... The Checkers are 8-2-1 against Rochester over the last three seasons, including 2-1-0 this season ... Geekie extended his franchise-record point streak to 14 games (11g, 7a), which is the third-longest posted by an AHL player this season. He also has goals in six straight games, which ties the longest in the AHL this season and is two shy of the franchise record ... Gauthier has 10 points (7g, 3a) in his last nine games. He ranks tied for third in the AHL with 25 goals in 41 games ... Forwards Brian Gibbons and Colin Markison missed the game due to injury ... Forwards Cedric Lacroix and Jacob Pritchard and defenseman Cavan Fitzgerald were healthy extras.
The Checkers' home stand continues tomorrow as they square off with the Americans one last time at 7 p.m.
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