The Checkers took control of the game after a wild first five minutes to eventually prevail by a 6-3 score in Belleville and extend their point streak to four games.

Julien Gauthier scored twice for the Checkers, who gave up the game’s first goal after just 21 seconds but broke a second-period tie with four unanswered goals to improve their record to 3-0-1 in their last four contests.

Aleksi Saarela, Morgan Geekie, Andrew Poturalski and Martin Necas also scored for the Charlotte, while Scott Darling made 20 saves and even picked up an assist on Gauthier’s empty-net goal to improve to 5-2-1 at the AHL level this season.

The early goal by Belleville that tied the Checkers’ franchise record for fastest goal allowed to start a game was just the beginning of a frantic first part of the game that would produce four goals in the first 4:21 of action. It took just 14 seconds for Saarela to answer that tally thanks to a fortuitous bounce off the end boards that left him with an empty net, but Belleville would regain their lead at the 3:38 mark.

Geekie’s goal, his fifth in nine games, came less than a minute later to tie the contest and start the Checkers’ run that would take place over the final two periods, with Gauthier and Poturalski scoring in the second period and Necas contributing early in the third.

Just 12 seconds after Belleville scored to get within two with 2:11 remaining in the contest, Gauthier would add a long-distance empty net goal to mark the third multi-goal game of his pro career and first this season.

The win improves Charlotte’s record to 3-1-1 its their post-holiday road trip through Canada and to a league-best 26-8-3 on the season.

NOTES

The Checkers have scored 19 total goals in their last four games … The Checkers scored on their first two shots, chasing Belleville starter Jake Paterson from the game … Geekie has nine points (5g, 4a) in his last nine games. He had just one point, an assist, in his previous 15 … All nine of tonight’s goals were scored at even strength … With two more points tonight, Poturalski extended his point streak to four games (2g, 4a) … Necas returned to the Checkers’ lineup after missing six games to represent the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship … Haydn Fleury played his first game with the Checkers since Oct. 26 and first game at any level since suffering a concussion with the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 13 … Charlotte won three of four games in its season series with Belleville that concluded tonight … Defenseman Josiah Didier missed the game due to injury … Forwards Steven Lorentz and Zack Stortini and defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti were healthy extras.

UP NEXT

The Checkers complete their six-game Canadian road trip and their three-in-three weekend against the Toronto Marlies Sunday at 4 p.m.
Paul Branecky
Author: Paul BraneckyEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Checkers' vice president of communications, Paul Branecky has been covering hockey in North Carolina since 2006, including five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.