The Checkers started their three-in-three road trip on a high note with a convincing 4-1 win over the Thunderbirds.
The first period proved to be a high-energy frame with several strong offensive chances for the Checkers, including one by defenseman Haydn Fleury as he broke up a zone entry attempt by Springfield’s power-play unit and sprung himself on a shorthanded breakaway that was deftly handled by Thunderbird goaltender Samuel Montembeault. Shortly after, a beautiful passing sequence between the top line of Aleksi Saarela, Martin Necas and Andrew Poturalski hit off the post and appeared to cross the goal line, but after a video review it was determined to be a no-goal.
With just over 10 minutes remaining in the first period the Checkers broke through with a power-play goal by Nick Schilkey to take a 1-0 lead and give the forward his tenth tally of the season. Charlotte goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic continued to stand tall, saving all seven shots he faced to maintain the clean sheet going into the second period.
The Checkers continued their offensive momentum with back-to-back goals in the middle frame. Zach Nastasiuk fired a bullet into the top corner on a late-developing 2-on-1 chance for his third goal of the season, and then just 41 seconds later Julien Gauthier used his big, net-front presence to bury a rebound following a no-look pass from Schilkey in the slot.
The third period provided a fitting end to a competitive division rivalry with a heavyweight fight between Dan Renouf and Thunderbirds’ forward Bobby Farnham. With less than three minutes remaining in the game Dryden Hunt tapped in Springfield’s only goal after a save by Nedeljkovic and a fortunate bounce off the post. To provide the proverbial dagger, though, Steven Lorentz buried an empty-netter to lift the Checkers to a 4-1 win.
Tonight snapped a three-game winless streak for the Checkers, tied for their longest of the season … Tonight was the second time the Checkers have scored at least three goals in their seven games … With a goal and an assist Nick Schilkey now has five points (3g, 2a) in two games this season against Springfield … Tonight was Patrick Brown’s fifth multi-point game of the season and his first multi-assist game … Alex Nedeljkovic extended his AHL wins lead and has now allowed two or fewer goals in each of his last six starts … Dan Renouf dropped the gloves with Bobby Farnham for his seventh fighting major of the year and now ranks third in the AHL in both penalty minutes and major penalties … The Checkers have now won five straight three-in-three games … Spencer Smallman missed the game due to injury … Zack Stortini, Dennis Robertson and Bobby Sanguinetti were healthy extras
The Checkers will be back in action tomorrow in Providence to take on the third-place Bruins.
Director of Communications Nicholas Niedzielski joined the Checkers in the summer of 2014. A Texas native, he previously worked for the AHL's Texas Stars.