A far cry from last night’s quick start, the Checkers followed up a scoreless first period by falling into a 2-0 hole early on in the second. The Charlotte power play came through to put the home side on the board later in the frame, but Springfield stretched its advantage back to two goals before the second horn sounded.
The Checkers rose to the occasion in the third, however, as Owen Tippett kept his offensive tear going with a slick goal, followed quickly by a game-tying tally from Aleksi Heponiemi - his second point of the night.
Antoine Bibeau - who entered the game in relief after starter Jonas Johansson exited midway through regulation - settled things down for Charlotte in the final stretch and kept the Thunderbirds at bay to clinch a point in the standings for his squad.
Both sides exchanged quality chances in the overtime period, but with under 90 seconds to go the Thunderbirds pounced on a rush and found the back of the net to claim the win - though the Checkers ultimately skated away with three of four points from the weekend series.
The comeback goals that earned us a point: pic.twitter.com/qFzas3JqMS— Charlotte Checkers (@CheckersHockey) March 13, 2022
They’re a good hockey team, but there were mistakes by us and they were in the back of our net. We talked after the second period that we just had to go make up for those mistakes. We’ve done it all year. Mistakes are going to happen and it’s how we respond to it, and the guys responded the right way. I was proud of the group. It was a really long road trip, and they came right back. I think it was 10 games in 16 nights. That’s a great effort in back-to-back games, so I’m proud of the group.
Kinnear on Justin Nachbaur replacing the injured Zac Dalpe on late notice
You look at him, there’s emotion to his game. He brought emotion, and he’s a big body that has worked extremely hard in practice and waited for an opportunity. He made the most of it tonight.
Kinnear on Antoine Bibeau entering the game in relief of the injured Jonas Johansson
He's been in and out of the lineup and has gone down to (ECHL) Allen a bit and come back up, but everyone is important. You never know when you’re going to be called upon and Bibs got called upon tonight. It was a 3-1 hockey game and we came back to 3-3 and he made some great saves, especially one at the of the third period to send it to overtime.
Aleksi Heponiemi on the third-period comeback
It was just an all-in period. We had a tough road trip and a lot of games here, but we squeezed it out. We just couldn’t get end result.
Heponiemi on the team’s resiliency
It’s coming along. It’s always tough to be two goals behind, but we just tried to keep it up and next time just get the win too.
Heponiemi on younger players stepping in due to injury
Our young guys are pretty mature already and take care of themselves too. They’re ready. They all picked up their game today and I think we were all playing good hockey. Sometimes you just don’t get the result.
Heponiemi on Bibeau
It was the second game that he’s come in midway through, but he stepped up. He was great there and made some huge saves. It’s a really tough spot but he made some really good saves there.