After a quiet start to the game, the Checkers pumped in three tallies over the final half of the first period to build themselves a sizeable lead. The desperate Wolf Pack wouldn’t roll over, however, notching a pair of their own in the second to cut Charlotte’s advantage to one goal heading into the final intermission.
Things escalated in the third. Warren Foegele executed a slick wrap-around to set a new franchise rookie goal record, then Patrick Brown converted a shorthanded breakaway to push the Checkers ahead 5-2. The Wolf Pack had one more rally left in them though, with Cole Schneider notching a power-play goal shortly after followed by Hartford pulling their goalie for one last push.
That would backfire as Nicolas Roy deposited the puck into the vacated net to push Charlotte ahead 6-3. They wouldn’t stop there, however, as Alex Nedeljkovic collected the puck on the next shift and launched it the length of the ice into the empty net, becoming the 13th netminder in AHL history to score a goal and sending Hartford packing with a 7-3 Charlotte win.
I might sound like a grumpy coach, but I didn’t really love the way we played for a while there. We didn’t start off very good, had spurts where played OK, had a real bad second period and then played OK in the third. We found a way to win and I guess you could say that’s good. I might be getting old and grumpy because I didn’t love the way we played.
Vellucci on Warren Foegele breaking the team’s rookie goals record
His work ethic. I wouldn’t say he’s the most talented guy – obviously he’s got talent – but he competes. Him and Bishop together are a dynamic duo and both compete very hard. He’s going to score goals because he’s around the net and has speed, but it’s the hard work that pays off.
Vellucci on Alex Nedeljkovic’s goal
We know he scored one last year in the ECHL and I coached him in junior so I know that he’s awesome at playing the puck. I know he looks for it, and especially up two goals it’s easier for him to do it. I’m proud of him. A lot of guys don’t work on that, but he’s worked at it extremely hard ever since he was 16 years old in Plymouth. When you work on something, it’s good to get rewarded and I’m happy for him.
Alex Nedeljkovic on his thought process on trying to score
Just hit the net this time. There have been countless times this year where I’ve whiffed on it or put it wide, so this time I wanted to bury it.
Nedeljkovic on his puck handling
Puck handling as a goaltender is big, whether it’s making breakout passes or moving the puck to your D smoothly. At the end of practice you might work on getting the puck in the air, not really to try and score goals, but just if you’re on the PK and trying to get the puck out. If the occasional goal goes in, it goes in.
Nedeljkovic on realizing he was going to score
I was ecstatic. I did it last year in Florida on the road and it was awesome. The only thing I wanted to take from last year’s was just to go to the bench and celebrate with those guys because I didn’t do that last year. When I saw it was going in I jumped and I was throwing my hands in the air. I was like a little kid again.
Foegele on his goals record
Bishop and I have created really good chemistry together. For the play there, it was just a good pass down low and I was trying to get it near the net and I think it went off the defensemen or something. For us, it’s just working hard and keeping it simple.