Stuffed animals cascaded down onto the ice at the Checkers’ annual Teddy Bear Toss on Saturday, with the team collecting 5,120 bears for local nonprofits ahead of the holidays.

The event was triggered by Will Lockwood’s tally midway through the third period when he poked a puck through the Penguins netminder to put Charlotte on the board.

Unfortunately the visitors had the last laugh, however, as they skated to a lopsided 4-1 victory. The Penguins jumped out to a big lead with a trio of tallies before the 13-minute mark of the opening frame, then converted on a two-man advantage in the second as Charlotte’s penalty troubles piled up to push things out of reach.

The Checkers pushed throughout the contest - outshooting the visitors 45-25 - but couldn’t solve Penguins netminder Joel Blomqvist until Lockwood’s late breakthrough, which proved to be too little, too late.


Coach Geordie Kinnear on the game
A lot to like. Obviously they scored early and then they got two more right after that, but I think if you look at the stretch that we were just on with all the travel being out west and four games this week in a short time span, I couldn’t be more proud of the effort. I thought for 60 minutes we pushed. Obviously you run into penalty trouble there a little bit, but I thought to be honest, the effort, the push and the staying with it for 60 minutes was unbelievable.

Kinnear on navigating a slew of penalties in the second period
I tried to get everyone involved to be honest with you. I’m trying to figure out the flow of the game with all the penalties and all that type of stuff, so I wasn’t real sure how that ended up on the short end of the stick, but we just move on. Our penalty kill did a good job. We gave them the one, and obviously being short five-on-three isn’t ideal, but I thought third period we came out with the right intentions and everyone was playing super hard. I couldn’t be more proud.

Kinnear on his team’s mentality after this game
There’s no frustration. Those guys are good in there. If they’re frustrated they stop working and start taking a lot of lazy penalties, but there was all push there in that third. I thought they all stuck together. A building block for us as a team even though the result didn’t come. Even the week, if you look at the week I thought we played some really good hockey and just didn’t the results. You move on and you just continue.


The Checkers collected 5,120 stuffed animals in their annual Teddy Bear Toss presented by Novant Health. They will now be donated to various children’s nonprofits this holiday season … The Checkers tied their season high with 45 shots on goal … Santtu Kinnunen and Brendan Perlini each had an assist, giving them points in two straight games … Waeber has played in five of the Checkers’ last six games. He entered in relief of Evan Cormier, who was making his Checkers debut … Checkers scratches included forwards Ryan McAllister, Cam Morrison, Mark Senden and Jake Wise; defensemen Matt Kiersted and Evan Nause; and goaltenders Mack Guzda and Spencer Knight.