A muddied first period saw the two squads fighting to establish offensive rhythm, but the Wild were the only team to break through, jumping on top late in the frame. The Checkers powered back in the second, however, outshooting Iowa 16-5 and finally finding the scoreboard in the final five minutes thanks to a seeing-eye wrist shot from Danny Kristo in his return from injury. Charlotte was given one more chance before the period ran out, earning a power play late and taking advantage of it courtesy of a pinching Haydn Fleury.
The third period saw the Wild push back hard, dominating the shot counter 12-3 and evening the score halfway through. As regulation rolled toward it’s finale, it was the red-hot Connor Brickley who came through for the Checkers, collecting a loose puck and sliding it past Iowa netminder Alex Stalock with less than three minutes to go to clinch Charlotte’s fifth consecutive victory.
“I’m really proud of the boys for how they rallied. I think our second period today was one of our best periods of the year. It was a great game. We started skating in the second. In the first it looked like we were thinking and in the second we were flying. It’s so fast out there nowadays that if you stop and think or aren’t sure what to do, you’re going to be behind.”
Samuelsson on Connor Brickley’s run of clutch performances:
“I heard one of the boys, I think it was Chelios, say that we were going to do it, ‘Brick by Brick.’ He seems to be the guy that we’re going to when we need a game winner. It’s very exciting to him and it’s a great series for us. He’s had the speed all year, but he’s one of those guys that I guess he’s feeling it right now. He’s not afraid to take it into the dirty areas and then he has the hands and vision to finish as well.”
Brickley on the team’s comeback:
“As a team I think we’re playing pretty resilient hockey right now. It’s desperation mode coming into this last stretch of games and trying to make a playoff push, so I think everyone is just playing hard until the final buzzer.”
Samuelsson on keeping the Iowa offense in check over the series:
“It started with great goaltending the whole series and some key saves at key times. Our group of defensemen right now is really solid and we feel like we go against anyone. We’re really excited for that group. It’s always a five-man unit when it comes to defense and in that second period I thought our forwards worked extremely hard for the puck.”
Samuelsson on pulling even in the playoff race:
“You can feel the value of the game in the room when you’re in there all day. It just adds another dimension to our game to be able to play good games when they really mean something.”
Brickley on racking up home wins:
“You always want to have a great home record. Fans come out and support the team and I think we’re really comfortable on home ice. I’m just glad we can come out and give the fans what they want to see.”