The Checkers battled in their series finale against Springfield, erasing a third-period deficit to force overtime, but couldn’t quite finish the job and fell 6-5.

A wild first period set the tone for Saturday’s tilt. The two sides traded tallies until it was knotted at two midway through the frame, then the Thunderbirds struck for another pair of goals 67 seconds apart to jump ahead. The Checkers got one last punch in courtesy of a Matt Kiersted rip, and the seven-goal period ended with Charlotte trailing by one.

Things settled from there, as the visitors netted the lone goal in the second to add to their lead. A switch flipped in the third, however. Eventually outshooting their opponent 13-4 in the third, the Checkers started their rally just 71 seconds into the period when Zac Dalpe knocked in a rebound on a man advantage for his second on the night. Charlotte’s surge paid off with just under three to play when - once again on the man advantage - Gerry Mayhew banged home a loose puck from out front to even the score and snatch a point for Charlotte.

For the second-straight night the Thunderbirds claimed the overtime winner, though, as Nikita Alexandrov’s shot glanced off a stick and fluttered in to put an end to the contest.


Coach Geordie Kinnear on coming back to force overtime
You have to stick with it a little bit. It was kind of a crazy game. Both goalies get pulled and then Fitzy comes in and does a great job and their goalie comes in and does a great job. We stick with it and get a power play goal. It wasn’t a pretty hockey game by either team in my opinion but it’s going to happen throughout the course of the year. Our guys just stuck with it, so I’m proud of the guys to get back into it.

Kinnear on an emotional game
Emotion is great. It’s what makes our game good and what makes pro sports good. You have to have emotion to play the game. It’s got to be channeled in the right direction, but I want emotional people that care, care about their teammates and play hard. For me it’s a real positive to have emotion.

Kinnear on veterans like Dalpe and Mayhew leading the way tonight
Dalps had a good night tonight, he got the two goals, and then obviously Gerry’s been a real good player for us all year long. I’m proud of the guys for just sticking with it. The easy thing was to go away and we never went away. Our group has never gone away. I’m real proud, and it’s a real big point for our group.

Kinnear on Evan Fitzpatrick
I wish we would’ve got the win for him because he came in and gave us energy because he had some really good saves. I’m proud of him too. It hasn’t been easy for him because he’s been up and down and been a backup here. For the extra guys, every single day guys are shooting on him. Obviously a real positive effort and we owe a lot to him for that one point tonight.

Zac Dalpe on the game
Obviously you battle back from being a couple of goals down and you get a point, but you need to get back in the win column. It’s good resiliency, but hopefully we get on the road, start hanging out with each other a little bit more and get some wins.

Dalpe on emotions
We’re the most penalized team in the league probably over the last 10 games. Obviously unacceptable so we have to clean that up. We’ll kill some penalties, but there are some that are not needed. A lot of emotions. It was great, fan appreciation night, we just couldn’t get the job done.

Dalpe on Fitzpatrick
Just rally around him. I thought he played well. He stepped in there and that’s not an easy thing to do to step in there when the temperature is hot like that. He did well.

Dalpe on navigating a tough stretch
Every team goes through it. You don’t want to be going through it in March and April, but it is what it is. You try to build championship habits and winning habits. We’ve done it in spurts and I think we’ve just got to continue to build it.


The Checkers have lost three consecutive overtime games. They are now 7-5 in games decided during the three-on-three session … The Checkers’ five-game winless streak (0-3-2) ties an 0-5-0 run in December for their longest of the season … The Checkers are winless in their last six games at home (0-3-3), which is the second-longest streak in team history, trailing a franchise record, eight-game run (0-7-1) in February/March of 2016 … Dalpe recorded his fourth multi-goal game of the season to hit the 20 goal mark for the fifth time in the AHL. He had a season-high three points and tied his season high with eight shots on goal … Fitzpatrick played his first AHL game of the season and 13th of his career … Charlotte finished 1-3-2 against Springfield this season. The Thunderbirds now have sole possession of third place in the Atlantic Division … Checkers scratches included forwards Josh Davies, Logan Hutsko, Ethan Keppen, Mark Senden and Justin Sourdif, and defenseman Calle Sjalin.