Checkers Drop Home Opener Against Bridgeport
The Checkers opened up their home portion of the schedule Friday night in front of a packed house but couldn’t keep their winning ways rolling, falling to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers by a score of 5-3.

Through two periods bogged down by penalties on both sides, the Checkers and Sound Tigers traded goals until Tanner Fritz danced around a defender and sniped the puck top corner in the final minute of the frame to put the visitors ahead heading into the second intermission.

Andrew Miller quickly continued Charlotte’s trend of comebacks with a quick wrister off a Lucas Wallmark drop pass early in the third, but Bridgeport answered once again, this time coming via a low-angle shot from Sebastian Aho. Despite the Checkers best efforts at a rally, they came up with no answer, and a last-minute empty netter sealed Charlotte’s fate.


Checkers Head Coach Mike Vellucci on the difference between tonight and the first two games:
“Compete. We didn’t work hard, we weren’t ready and we were actually pretty cocky. I thought we had a good practice on Tuesday but then Wednesday we were just terrible – there was no compete and we just went through the motions. I could feel it coming. We think we’re really good because we win our first two road games and we don’t have to work, but they out-worked us. We told them what to expect and they didn’t listen. There’s an expression that you get what you put into it, and we didn’t put enough into it.”

Vellucci on his team’s struggles:
“Turnover, turnover, turnover. We talked about it before the game, first period and second period and we continue to do it. That’s just competing and working hard.”

Vellucci on falling behind early:
“We’ve done it three times in a row but it’s not a good trait. It means you’re starting behind three times in a row. We have to have a better start.”

Vellucci on the takeaway:
“I want it to be a lesson. We’ve got to learn from this. We told them to be ready and they weren’t ready. We told them to have a good practice and they didn’t. It’s got to be a lesson. You can tell them until you’re blue in the face but they’ve got to listen to it, believe it and do it.”

Checkers defenseman Jake Chelios on the difference tonight:
“I think it was the speed. Coming out in the first games everyone plays fast, whether it’s because of anxiety or excitement. This week with the long week of practice we came out more sluggish and they didn’t. We felt like we were a step behind for most of the game and that ended up costing us.”

Chelios on falling behind:
“That’s not the identity that any team wants. You don’t want to be the team that has to battle back every game. It’s the starts. I don’t think we’ve had a good start yet, and that’s just coming ready to play. You’ve got to get the pucks deep and wear them down, especially when we’re at home, and take it from there.”

Chelios on how to fix tonight’s struggles:
“You’ve just got to be smarter with the puck. It’s simplifying everything, especially in the beginning where guys try to do too much around the blue lines. With a fast transition team like Bridgeport, that’s going to get you in trouble. I think guys just have to settle down and focus on getting the puck over the blue line.”

Chelios on tomorrow’s quick turnaround:
“In the beginning, playing as many games as possible is big as far as getting back in to shape. When you have a bad game like this you want to jump right back on the horse and get back after it.”