Julien Gauthier
In front of a packed house on opening night, the Checkers battled through a back-and-forth contest to take a shootout victory over the Hershey Bears.

After Nicolas Roy opened the scoring early on, the teams traded tallies for the remainder of regulation. The whistles were out throughout the game, with the two squads combining for 69 penalty minutes and 15 total power plays, and the Bears took advantage by notching three goals on their eight man advantages.

That included an answer to Julien Gauthier’s late go-ahead goal with a tying tally by Lucas Johansen to send the game to overtime. The extra frame failed to produce a winner, so the Checkers move on to their first shootout of the season.

The Checkers went the rookie route in the shootout, tapping Morgan Geekie and Martin Necas as the first two shooters who both converted their chance. Alex Nedeljkovic, who finished the night with 10 saves on 13 shots, denied both of Hershey’s attempts to keep the Checkers’ perfect record intact.

QUOTES

Coach Mike Vellucci on his team’s play
I didn’t like our play tonight. We might have been a little tense or nervous but we didn’t play with the same conviction we did on the road. We turned pucks over way too much and played really loose, almost like we were pushing it too hard at times we should have been more patient.

Vellucci on the penalty kill
We made some really bad mistakes that we shouldn’t make at this point. I’m not happy with the penalty kill so we’re going to have to dig down here tonight and figure it out before tomorrow.

Vellucci on getting the win despite not playing as well as they could have
We stuck together, that was the key. There was no complaining on the bench at teammates. Everybody stuck together and was rooting each other on. We’re going to face adversity, it’s just how you handle it.

Vellucci on going with two rookies in the shootout
Geeks had the best percentage counting juniors and Marty had good stats himself. Beautiful goal by Geeks and then Marty did the same thing and obviously Ned made two saves.

Martin Necas on his first AHL game
I felt pretty good. The last couple of games in Carolina I didn’t play much, maybe 8-10 minutes. I don’t know my ice time today but it was probably like 20 minutes. Your legs are going and you’re in the tempo of the game, and that feels much better and more comfortable.

Necas on going in the shootout
I actually knew what I was going to do. It’s one of my favorite moves, I practice it a lot and it works.

Andrew Poturalski on playing with other skilled players
Playing with guys that are this skilled and play the game and see the ice like that, that’s awesome. Just being able to generate those chances, eventually they’re going to start to go in for us. If we can get those kinds of shots and chances like we did tonight we’re eventually going to start putting up four or five a night.

Poturalski on the game
We definitely had too many turnovers that led to a lot of their chances and a couple of their power-play goals. If we can grind out wins when we’re not playing our best, that shows that we’re a good team.

NOTES

The Checkers continued their best start in franchise history by improving to 5-0-0. The previous record was 3-0-0 … Charlotte improved to 4-5-0 in home openers since joining the AHL … Andrew Poturalski extended his point streak to five games (2g, 7a) … Hershey scored three times on seven power-play opportunities … Defenseman Josiah Didier received a game misconduct for charging in the first period … Defenseman Dan Renouf missed the game due to injury … Forwards Nick Schilkey and Zack Stortini and defenseman Dennis Robertson were healthy extras.

UP NEXT

The Checkers and Bears play a rematch at 6 p.m. Saturday. Kids tickets are just $5 and the first 1,500 kids to arrive get a free jersey.
Nicholas Niedzielski
Author: Nicholas NiedzielskiEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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.