Charlotte and Lehigh Valley locked up for a tightly contested battle Friday night, but the Checkers couldn’t quite nudge ahead and ultimately dropped a 2-1 nailbiter.

The defensive side of the game was at the forefront throughout the contest, as both teams frustratingly stymied their opponent’s chances. After 20 minutes of scoreless hockey - despite Charlotte pumping in 14 shots on goal to Lehigh Valley’s four - the offenses finally ramped up as Aleksi Heponiemi buried a wrister from the slot early in the middle frame to open the scoring.

The Phantoms punched back, however, evening the score later in the period and taking the lead in the waning minutes courtesy of a Kieffer Bellows blast on a Lehigh Valley man advantage.

That outburst in the second period would prove to be the only offensive sparks across the entirety of regulation, as the netminders continued to be the stars of the show - Mack Guzda finishing with 27 saves and Phantoms netminder Samuel Ersson coming up with 29. The Checkers poured on the chances down the stretch - including earning two power plays in the back half of the third - but they couldn’t solve Ersson, and as the clock ran down to zero Charlotte was saddled with the narrow defeat.


The Checkers are 1-2-0-0 against the Phantoms this season … Logan Hutsko picked up his fourth point in his last four games and Anthony Bitetto notched his third in his last three games … The Checkers have surrendered five power-play goals in three games against the Phantoms this season … Gerry Mayhew’s unsuccessful penalty shot was the first awarded to the Checkers since Jan. 18, 2020 … Tonight was the fifth time in nine starts that Mack Guzda allowed two or fewer goals … Tonight was the fifth straight game in which the Checkers logged at least 30 shots on goal … Tonight was Connor Bunnaman’s first game as a visitor in Lehigh Valley after spending his first four pro seasons there … Johnny Ludvig and Calle Sjalin missed the game due to injury … Anton Levtchi, Serron Noel, Robert Calisti and Riley Bezeau were scratches